Tom says: "If you’re feeding a crowd, you can’t beat lamb shank. Though it’s a bit of a forgotten cut, it’s great value for money, and incredibly flavourful. The best way to get the most from this cut is to slow cook it – braising the meat means it should become meltingly tender, juicy and tasty. Cooking it until it almost falls off the bone is a real joy.
"The shank is the meaty cut at the lower end of the leg. Sometimes you’ll find it sold at your local butcher still attached to a whole leg of lamb, but if it’s just the shank you’re after, most butchers should prepare it for you and provide you with the shanks on their own.
For me, this is a dish that really earns its place at the dinner table.
"You can present it in a big pot for everyone to help themselves, or because it’s a smaller joint, you can serve everyone their own lamb shank on the bone – either way it’s a really appealing dish that’s also fun to eat and enjoy."
• 4 x lamb shanks
• 1 onion, peeled and sliced
• 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
• 1 tsp of fennel seeds
• 1 tbsp of ground cumin
• bouquet garni
• 300ml of white wine
• 500ml lamb stock
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• olive oil for cooking
• chopped lemon thyme for garnish
For the mashed potatoes:
• 5 or 6 large baking potatoes
• 300g rock salt
• 100g butter
• 300ml milk
For the lemon confit:
• 1 lemon
• sugar to taste
1 Heat the oven to 160C/Gas Mark 2-3. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat a deep, heavy-based, ovenproof sauté pan (or flame-proof casserole) over a medium-high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Brown the lamb shanks in the pan (in two batches, or one at a time) to colour all over. Place the browned shanks on a plate on the side.
2 Return the pan to a medium-low heat and add a little more oil if needed, followed by the onion, sliced fennel, garlic, fennel seeds, ground cumin and bouquet garni. Sweat gently for three to four minutes. Then pour in the white wine and let it bubble to reduce by half. Add the lamb stock and bring to the boil.
3 Replace the lamb shanks in the pan, immersing them in the mixture. Put a lid on the pan and place in the oven. Cook for 1½ hours until the meat is very soft and starting to fall from the bone.
For the potatoes
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Scrub the potatoes well. Pour the rock salt on to a baking tray and lay the baking potatoes on top. Bake for 1½ hours or until the skins are crisp and the flesh soft. While the potatoes are still hot, scoop out the flesh into a bowl.
2 Warm the butter and milk in a pan over medium heat. Start to mash the potatoes and slowly add the milk and butter. Mix until very smooth and glossy, then season to taste. Serve immediately.
For the lemon confit
1 Extract the juice of the lemon. Remove all of the white pith from the peel. Shred the peel into thin strips (julienne), place in cold water and bring to the boil, then strain. Repeat blanching in cold water and bringing to the boil twice more (three times in total).
2 Place the strips in the juice and add enough sugar to balance the acidity. Simmer the lemon strips in the lemon “syrup” until just tender. Add more sugar if needed.
Place a lamb shank in each warm serving bowl with the mashed potato. Spoon over the cooking sauce and lemon confit. Sprinkle with chopped lemon thyme.
Dominic says: "While I have to agree with Tom that lamb shank is a great dish, so too is saddle of lamb. It’s less popular than a leg of lamb, but it’s still a premium cut with a rich, deep flavour. It’s equally delicious if you prepare it in the right way.
"This dish is slightly more complicated, so definitely worth trying before Easter, or before a celebratory dinner party, as a bit of practice. The extra effort will be well rewarded because it’s a really special way to serve and enjoy lamb.
"Although the dish does take a bit of time to prepare, it’s perfect if you want to push yourself a little and you have the opportunity to do so during the holidays.
"Stuffing the saddle in this way creates a really elegant dish. The spinach stuffing married with the tender lamb and clean flavour of the fennel combines to create a really fresh, flavoursome taste of spring."
• 1 short saddle of lamb, off the bone including the under fillet
• 1 shallot
• 1 whole lamb kidney
• 500g spinach
• 1 clove of garlic
• caul fat
• 1m butchers’ string
• 2 fennel
• olive oil for frying
1 Finely chop one shallot. Cut the kidney in half, removing the white nerve, and finely chop. Sauté the spinach until cooked. Once sautéed, place into a sieve and press to remove any excess liquid. Gently sauté the shallot and kidney together, then grate the garlic into the pan.
2 Mix together with the spinach and season to taste. Put to one side to cool.
3 Carefully remove the meat from the fat, making sure to keep the fat whole. Trim off any sinew from the meat. Make an incision on the larger side of the lamb two-thirds deep. Neatly place the lamb farce inside. Place the lamb fillet next to the lamb farce, making sure that there is meat going all the way around the filling.
4 Take a mallet and flatten the lamb fat then roll around the lamb meat, just slightly overlapping. Tightly wrap in cling film and leave to set in the fridge for approximately one hour. Remove the cling film and wrap the caul fat around the lamb twice. Secure both ends of the lamb with string.
5 Pan fry, making sure all sides are golden brown. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C/Gas Mark 4 for 10 minutes, turning halfway. Take out of the oven and allow to rest for a further 10 minutes. Remove the string and carve.
6 Cut two fennel in half. Blanch in boiling salted water until cooked. Remove from the water and dry. Pan fry until golden brown.