Thursday, August 6, 2015


By Emma Steendam

In this type of weather, at this time of year, there’s nothing for it: it’s slow cooked lamb shanks all round here. We’ve often butchered our own lamb or beef (which we don’t anymore with Matt working off-farm, it used to be included in his salary) so I would quite often have some fairly random cuts of meat to deal with in the back of my freezer. My slow cooker would get a work out in Winter, especially when I was working out of home all day – I could pop some simple ingredients and tougher cuts of meat into the slow cooker, turn it on slow all day and have a delicious dinner ready when I got home, plus the house smelt amazing. Brilliant. Nowadays I’ll admit I don’t use my slow cooker quite as much, but I still love me some lamb shanks! With our coonara-style wood fire I’ve taken to just popping my casserole dish on top all day and going about my business while my shanks bubble and braise and create magic. If you don’t have a slow cooker but you do have a handy wood heater you could do the same, or just your lowest stove top setting will do too.

Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks with Creamy Polenta
2 lamb shanks
1/2 cup plain flour
1 brown onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, diced
1 sweet potato, diced
1 beef stock cube
1/2 cup red wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon barbeque sauce
1 tablespoon dried mint
1 tablespoon dried rosemary
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh parsley to garnish
Instant polenta, made using your preferred method
Coat your lamb shanks in a generous amount of flour, I often pop some salt and pepper through my flour as well. Heat some olive oil in a heavy based pan or casserole dish with lid, mine is a red one from Myer which we got on our wedding registry. Brown your shanks off, then remove and set aside.
In another good glug of olive oil, cook your onions and garlic until just soft over medium heat. Add in the carrots and sweet potato and cook for a few minutes. Crumble your beef stock cube in, followed by the red wine, barbeque sauce, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and herbs. Stir this all together until well combined and continue cooking for a few minutes.
Return the shanks to the pot and stir so they are covered with your mixture. Reduce heat to low, or pop atop the fire like I did. Although I love to have my fire roaring throughout the day, the day I did these shanks I kept the fire a little quieter with a lower constant temperature. Your shanks are ready when the meat is falling off the bone.

My shanks sat on the fire for roughly 2-3 hours but I probably had the fire too hot. Ideally I’d like a lower heat for longer cooking time, this is why I love my slow cooker, 6-8 hours on a very low temperature would be perfect. I served the shanks up for dinner with creamy polenta, I make mine using 2/3 water to 1/3 cream – more cream and butter the better I say! If your mixture with your shanks is still too watery (a lot of moisture comes out of the meat sometimes) I often add in a tablespoon of cornflour mixed into a paste with a bit of water. This recipe can be quite sweet and tangy with the apple cider and brown sugar, plus sweet potato, but I like it. I do other variations when the mood strikes, but this is my go-to shanks meal when we hibernate. Brrrrrrr!
Do you have a slow cooker?
A wood fire filling your house with ash and dust?
Strange cuts of random meat lurking in your freezer? Me too, me too…

'Emma is a blogger, crafter, baker, farmers wife, Mother, photographer-by-trade, many hat wearer. Most days she can be found digging about in her garden, talking to her chickens or brewing a strong pot of tea in her little farmhouse on the hill. You can join Emma as she makes, bakes, sews and grows at She Sows Seeds. Other days can find her pointing her lens at chubby babies, people in love and local businesses with Emma Steendam Photography.'


  1. Yum, I have never tried lamb shanks and have been meaning to, will try this recipe. No I don't have a slow cooker..I just use my oven and turn it down that the same thing? I don't know. Love your photos too! Alison

  2. Ohhh lamb shanks are the best! That's totally the same thing using the oven. The slow cooker is awesome for putting on and trotting off to work and forgetting about it until you come home to the yummy aromas. Yum! You'll have to let us know when you try it :)

  3. Yum! I've been thinking I should cook lamb shanks - now I have a great recipe I have no excuse. Thank you.


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Thanks so much for your words of encouragement, advice and solidarity.

xo em