Mediterranean Lamb Shank Pie – your new family favourite this winter season.

Appealing for their unctuously rich taste and meltingly tender texture, lamb shanks are my preferred cut to cook with once temperatures plummet and comfort food is craved. Enter my recipe for Mediterranean Lamb Shank Pie – a twist on the traditional meat pie, flavoursome lamb shank is slow braised with aubergine, rosemary and olives until meltingly tender before being topped with buttery pastry and baked until golden. Made using A Grade lamb farmed on the Cape West Coast, this pie’s anything but homely. Cooked to fork-tender in a gravy redolent of tomato, rosemary and garlic, the shanks are the star here – especially when sourced from from my latest food find, LA Farms.

MEDITERRANEAN LAMB SHANK PIE

Cultivating free-range meat on an ancestral estate that runs all the way down to the cold Atlantic, LA Farms is situated between the towns of St Helena Bay and Velddrif on the Cape West Coast. Certified free-range lamb makes all the difference, what with a great flavour depth found in the meat thanks to the animals’ natural diet of wild vegetation. By taking pride in their ethical accountability for their herds of sheep, Wagyu and Angus cattle, LA Farms has ensured they offer their customers a selection of quality, grass-fed and free-range meat products that adhere to halal standards. Through sustainable farming methods, LA Farms have cemented their long-term commitment to the land and environment and strive to better ensure that their efforts will be enjoyed for future generations.

Ideal for your Easter family gathering, the recipe for my Mediterranean Lamb Shank Pie works equally well as individual pot pies or one large dish. Not only aesthetic, the addition of the shank bones’ marrow further flavours the pies as they bake as well as serving as a pleasingly rustic pie bird. While I used a combination of red wine (about two glasses of Diemersdal’s excellent Private Collection Bordeaux blend) and chicken stock, one can choose to omit the tipple entirely and use LA Farms’ delicious bone broth instead. If one is feeling enterprising enough to tackle homemade pastry, LA Farms also offers stoneground flour via their online shop.

Mediterranean Lamb Shank Pie

Prep time: /Cook time: 3 hours /Serves: 4-6

You will need:

  • 4 large lamb shanks 
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped 
  • 5-8 baby aubergines OR 3 large aubergines, roughly chopped
  • 3-6 sprigs of rosemary
  • 3-4 brown anchovy fillets in oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 250ml red wine (optional)
  • 500ml chicken or beef stock/bone broth
  • 2 tablespoons pitted black olives, roughly chopped
  • Sea salt and coarse black pepper
  • 1 roll of readymade puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Using a large casserole, heat the olive oil, add in 2 sprigs of rosemary and brown the lamb shanks, careful to colour each side of the meat. Remove the shanks and rosemary and set aside. Fry the onion, carrot and aubergine in the remaining oil and rendered lamb fat until soft and slightly browned. Add in the anchovy fillets and “melt” them into the vegetables – their addition adds a subtle earthiness that is delicious with lamb.

MEDITERRANEAN LAMB SHANK PIE

Season with salt and pepper and add the crushed garlic and tomato paste. Cook on high for a little longer then (if using) pour in the wine to deglaze the base of the casserole. Pour in the stock and return the shanks to the pot. Bring to a simmer then cover the casserole with its lid and cook the shanks in the oven for 30 minutes at 220°C and then for the remaining 2 hours at 160°C. The lamb shanks need to be meltingly tender and the liquid substantially reduced. 

Use two forks to shred the meat, removing any bones and setting them aside. Carefully stir through the pitted olives and season the shredded lamb to taste. Fill individual pie dishes halfway with the lamb filling and then stand the discarded shank bones upright in each dish. Fill the rest of the pie dishes with the lamb filling. 

MEDITERRANEAN LAMB SHANK PIE

On a floured surface, roll out the pastry and divide according to the number of pies being made. Slice a small “x” into the middle of each pastry sheet – this allows the shank bone to poke through the pastry. Carefully drape the pastry over each pie, slicing off any excess around the edges. Crimp in the cut edges of the pastry and roll out any leftover scraps to decorate the pies with. Brush the pastry with the beaten egg and bake the pies in a preheated 220°C oven for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.

Serve the lamb shank pies with creamy mashed potato and steamed greens – I love shredded Brussels sprouts dressed in melted butter and a generous grinding of black pepper.

MEDITERRANEAN LAMB SHANK PIE

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