Finally, for anyone who doesn't have the luxury of a local supplier of raw milk, Green Pasture supply this . It is quite expensive, but if you buy in bulk and freeze it, you can get a discount that makes it worth adding to your order.
One of the cuts in my box of delicious meat was some fat lamb shanks. Any meat on the bone (except beef rib) benefits from long, gentle cooking, encouraging all the connective tissues to relax and dissolve, minerals and gelatine to come out of the bone and the meat to become as tender as you like. With a savoury, flavoursome cut you can break out some fragrant herbs and spices. Although lamb is often paired with powerful rosemary and deeply savoury anchovies, I love it with saffron, for an unmistakably Middle Eastern twist.
You don't need much saffron to infuse the whole dish with flavour. In fact, a heavy hand will turn your fragrant supper into something that tastes quite medicinal! Sweet onions, coriander seed and cinnamon balance those medicinal notes perfectly.
Saffron Lamb Shanks (serves 4)
2-3 fat lamb shanks (approx 900g)1 large red onion1 heaped tsp ground coriander seed 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon1 pinch saffron threads1 tablespoon tomato puree4 large carrots cut into batons
sea salt & black pepperlamb, beef or duck fat to cook
Choose a pan that will comfortably fit all your shanks in it. Brown the shanks in a heaped tsp of fat and then take them out and set aside.
Finely chop onion and sauté gently in a the browning fat until starting to smell sweet and take on a little colour.
Add saffron, cinnamon and coriander, stir for 30 seconds.
Add tomato puree and cook on a medium heat for a couple of minutes. The tomato should start to smell sweet and concentrated. Don't let it burn!
Add shanks and enough water to come about an inch up the pan. Season with salt and lots of black pepper. Cover with a lid and bring up to a simmer.
Simmer, covered, for 2-3 hours until completely tender. Turn the shanks a couple of times to evenly absorb the saffron colour. Keep the water topped up, but don't add too much or you will dilute the flavour.
Add the carrots about 30 minutes before the end of your cooking time.
Once the meat is tender, remove shanks, season (if needed) and reduce the liquid until it has a thin gravy consistency. Take meat off the bone and return to the sauce to heat through.
Serve with rice cooked in lamb or chicken stock and scented with a couple of cardamon pods. A dark green parsley and spinach salad and scattering of pomegranate seeds makes a delicious winter meal.