Winter has certainly hit Sydney and so warm, nourishing meals that nurture and satisfy the seemingly bottomless bellies of children (especially teenagers!) are a must. During a busy working and school week, making dinner needs to be manageable and if it can be prepared ahead of time and reheated, like my Sweetly Spiced Aromatic Lamb Shanks, even better!

I made this glossy aromatic dish of lamb shanks earlier this week, inspired by a recipe years ago from Nigella Lawson. I had previously published a version which was delicious, but I thought a little lengthy in terms of ingredients. I have also recently discovered the heady, aniseed like aroma and flavour of star anise and discovered how perfectly this spice complements lamb. So I have tweaked and tested and tasted this new recipe of mine and I love it! In fact, everyone in my family gave it the thumbs up. Plus, it’s gluten and lactose free. So here it is…I hope it’s a hit with your family and friends too.

Oh I forgot to mention, I served these shanks with steamed basmati rice and a bowl piled high with long green beans, simply dressed with lemon juice and my favourite Lomondo Olive Oil from Mudgee You could substitute the beans with vitamin rich broccoli or swiftly sautéed spinach and lemon. Instead of steamed basmati rice, try cous cous, mashed potato or my Saffron Citrus Pilaf . Add a dollop of Greek yoghurt and mop up the sticky sauce with warm Lebanese bread or fresh baked Nigellan Flatbread. Lovely. 

*You can quickly look up the recipes for the pilaf and flat bread via the search bar on my blog. 

Sweetly Spiced Lamb Shanks to serve 8 people

Extra virgin olive oil
8 meaty lamb shanks
2 onions
4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
heaped teaspoons fresh grated ginger or 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes 
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
sea salt (I used a heaped teaspoon)
ground black pepper
4 whole star anise
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup of red wine 
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons of lentils (either red lentils or the little blue-green French lentils)
Handful of fresh coriander leaves

Preheat the oven to 175/180 degrees Celsius on a conventional setting (or 150/160 fan forced). 

Add a good splash of olive oil into a cast iron pan like a Le Creuset – and brown the lamb shanks. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. The browning of the lamb releases extra flavour and helps develop a slight, texturally pleasing crust. Once browned, set aside. *You can also do this prep stage in an ordinary wide frypan, and then transfer the mixture to a baking dish. I tried this earlier in the week because I wanted to use a Corningware roasting dish that used to belong to my grandmother. If you choose this option, you must snugly cover the dish with double aluminium foil before placing into the oven. 

Put the onions, garlic, turmeric, ginger, chilli, cinnamon, cumin, sea salt and pepper into a food processor and chop. Alternatively you can finely dice the onions and garlic and mix together with the spices. 

Add another splash of olive oil to your pot and sauté this mixture with the star anise added at this stage, over a low to medium heat for about 5 – 7 minutes until thick and glossy. 

Pour in the honey, chicken or vegetable stock and red wine, along with the red lentils, stir to combine and cook for another minute. 

Add the lamb shanks, bring to the boil and then immediately place the pot with the lid ON, into the oven for 2.5 hours. *Or transfer to a baking dish as described above.

After 2.5 hours, remove the lid or foil and grill under a high setting for 5 minutes or so, turning the shanks once, to achieve a deeper, caramel colour. 

This dish can be served straight from the oven, or cooled down, refrigerated and warmed through the next day. I like to scatter roughly chopped fresh coriander over the shanks just before serving. 

Time saver tip – This is a great recipe to make on the weekend in preparation for a busy Monday school or work day.