Saturday was the nicest day of the year so far. Something grilled, with new potatoes, seemed appropriate; but, when I got to the butcher, I found the lamb shanks the most tempting items on display. My greengrocer is not selling any Jersey Royals yet -- still too expensive, he says. So we had a wintry lamb stew, with mash.
The shanks were large. I bought two for three people, and I cooked them roughly as in this recipe, but with a couple of modifications. First, I used a little sunflower oil rather than olive oil for the initial browning -- it has a higher smoke point, and is therefore less likely to degrade and tarnish the stew. Second, I deglazed the pan with white wine vinegar: about 80ml, which I allowed to bubble until it had almost disappeared. Then I added the stock -- bought beef stock, from the butcher -- before putting the casserole in the oven.
At the end of cooking, I removed the shanks, and sieved and reduced the sauce, as in the previous recipe. But this time I stripped the meat from the shank bones, and returned it to the sauce (of which there was now about 250ml) to warm through. This stew, with its combination of tender, gelatinous meat and garlicky sauce, was quite the most wonderful I have eaten for a long time -- despite the season.