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Slow Cooked Honeyed Lamb Shanks


My niece, who farms in New Zealand, informs me that what we in the northern hemisphere call lamb is not lamb at all, but hogget. Now to me, hogget sounds like something out of the Harry Potter series and I was even less  convinced when I could not find the name in my ancient Oxford Dictionary, so I consulted my local butcher. He told me to leave well alone and be satisfied with the lamb/hogget he supplies me with. Albeit, he was kind enough to explain the three different choices of ovine meat.

Lamb is less than one year old. It has a mild flavour and low in internal and external fat and requires short cooking times. Hogget is the meat from the ovine that is one to two years old and has a more intense flavour.  It has a more intense flavour than lamb and is suitable for roasting, stewing and braising. Mutton is the meat that is more than two years old. It has a very strong flavour, requires longer cooking times and is more suitable for slow roasting at low heat, stewing and braising.

One of the easiest and tastiest ways to prepare lamb or hogget  is to create a pot roast in a slow cooker. Some recipes call for you to leave the lamb shank on the bone while cooking, which I recommend. This helps the meat absorb additional flavour from the bone marrow. But you can also remove the leg bone and use the remaining cavity to create a splendid stuffed roast.

 
Ingredients (for four servings)

• 4 lamb shanks
• 6 shallots or 2 onions, peeled and sliced into rings
• 5 cloves of peeled sliced garlic
• 1 orange, juiced (grate the rind and set it aside)
• 1 cup of red wine
• 1 tble of Worcestershire sauce
• 2 tble of honey (use regular or brown sugar if you have to)
• 2 tsp of cayenne pepper (can substitute chili powder)
• 1 cup of chicken stock
• rosemary, a few fresh sprigs (can use dried if you need to)
• salt and pepper
• butter

Method


Melt the butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown them on both sides. If you need to raise the heat a little to do this, that’s okay but be sure you don’t let the butter burn.

While the lamb is browning, start the slow cooker on low heat with the lid on so it will be warmed up when you add the shanks.

After the lamb shanks are browned, leave the juices behind in the skillet and add the shanks to the slow cooker. Place the fresh rosemary on top of them. (Note: If you are using dried rosemary, wait and add it with the other spices in a few minutes).

In the juices left from browning the lamb, sauté the orange rind, the garlic and the onions until the onions are starting to get a bit crunchy. When this happens, add the red wine, Worcestershire sauce, the honey, cayenne pepper, the chicken stock, the salt and pepper to your liking, and the dried rosemary if you chose not to use the fresh earlier. Mix all the ingredients and bring them to a simmer for about 5 minutes. When finished, pour the sauce over the lamb shanks in the slow cooker and cook covered on low for 6 or 7 hours.

After the allotted time, remove the cover from the slow cooker and increase the heat level to high. Continue to cook the lamb shanks and honey for another hour and a half so that the orange and honey sauce can thicken. Stir around from time to time if you need to.

To serve the honey lamb shanks, move them from the slow cooker to a serving platter and scoop equal amounts of the orange honey sauce from the cooker onto the lamb. These go well with rice or couscous a fresh salad and a bottle or two of a good Rose.
 

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