Navarin of Tender Lamb Shanks with Spring Vegetables and Lentils
“What a happy coincidence that lamb and spring vegetables share our affection at the same time of year; few things are prettier or more delicious than a light stew of the two. The name Navarin comes from Navet, the French for turnips, and I love these young, tender and bittersweet beauties. Always leave the turnips in so that the stew doesn’t have an identity crisis, but feel free to change the other vegetables, or just use one. The cooking liquid is a light juice rather than a thick gravy. Although the vegetables can be cooked in the stew, I prefer to cook them separately and add them at the end so that each flavour shouts out its own version of springtime.”
By Merchant Gourmet Cook, Alex Mackay
- 4 lamb shanks, approx 250g-300g each
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 40g unsalted butter
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
- 500ml lamb stock (1 pouch of fresh supermarket stock or a quality cube is fine)
- 1 tsp cornflour, diluted in 3 tbsp water
- Salt, and freshly ground black pepper
- 12 small Chantenay carrots, peeled
- 2 small turnips, peeled and cut in 6
- 20 sugar snap peas
- 8 spring onions, trimmed then halved lengthways on an angle
- 160g fresh or frozen peas (podded weight)
- 1 x 250g pouch of Merchant Gourmet Simply Cooked Beluga Lentils
Prep Ahead – the lamb shanks can be cooked and the cooking liquor finished a couple of days before serving. If you are doing this, heat the lamb gently in the sauce without stirring, once hot, it will happily hold in a warm oven for as long as you need it to. The vegetables can be cooked and cooled at least 1 day ahead.
1. Preheat your oven to 120c / Position lower shelf
2. Heat a shallow ovenproof pan, just large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer (I used a 24cm pan), with the vegetable oil. Season the shanks. Fry them over a medium to high heat for 5 minutes on each side. Drain the oil. Add the butter. Continue to fry over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the shanks are a deep, golden brown; turning and basting the shanks throughout, making sure the butter doesn’t burn. Drain the excess butter. Add the tomato puree, and fry for about a minute until the tomato paste browns.
3. Pour over the lamb stock and just enough water to barely cover the shanks (I used 250ml but it will depend on the size of your pan). Bring to the boil, then take the pan off the heat. Cover with a piece of greaseproof paper and then cook slowly in the pre-heated oven for 2 & 1/2 to 3 hours or until the lamb almost falls off the bone.
4.Next, boil the vegetables. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the carrots. Cover, and bring back to the boil. Continue to boil for 3 minutes, and then add the turnips for a further 2 minutes. Bring back to a rolling boil. Add the green vegetables, cover, and bring back to the boil once again. Take the lid off, then boil for 2 minutes more, or until the vegetables are tender. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl of cold water. As soon as they are cold, drain the vegetables well and put them onto a plate. Set aside.
5. Once the lamb is cooked, remove and discard the greaseproof paper. Transfer the lamb shanks to a plate and keep them warm in the oven. Skim the surface of the stock to remove any excess fat. Reduce the stock by just over half until it thickens a little and tastes concentrated. Whisk in the diluted cornflour, bring back to the boil and season to taste.
6. Brush the shanks with the sauce and place under a hot grill for 3-4 minutes to give them a lovely glaze (this bit is optional, you can just serve them as they are). While the lamb is under the grill, heat the lentils according to the instructions on the pouch. Warm the vegetables through in a steamer or in the microwave.
7. Serve the lamb with the vegetables, lentils and sauce.
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