A hearty winter casserole with a delicate hint of lemon.


  • To prepare base for the casserole:

  • 6 lamb shanks

  • 3 carrots, washed & roughly chopped

  • 3 celery stalks, chopped

  • 2 largish brown onions, roughly chopped

  • 6 cloves garlic, squashed

  • 3 4inch sprigs rosemary

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock

  • water

  • For sauce:

  • lamb stripped from the shanks

  • 2 carrots, cut in fine dice

  • 3 celery stalks, ditto

  • 3 brown onions, ditto

  • 3 large cloves garlic

  • 2 Tblsp tomato paste

  • 2 tsp harissa

  • approx 3 litres of reserved lamb/veg stock from above

  • 1 cup (or so) of good quality red wine - cab sav or shiraz or merlot

  • ¼ to 3/4 of whole preserved lemon - to suit your taste*

  • 2 sprigs thyme


  • 1.

    Into the dutch oven went 2 shanks, along with a liberal splash of olive oil, browning them until the kitchen was thick with the smell. Repeated the process with the remaining 2 x 2 shanks, then added chuncks of carrot, celery, onion, 6 cloves garlic, 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary & 2 newly sprouted bay leaves from the garden, covered the shanks with about a litre of stock and topped up with water to cover the shanks/bones. Let it simmer away happily, minding its own business, for nearly 3 hours after which time I fished out the shanks, removed the skin, sinew and gristly bits and chopped up the, now oh so tender and succulent, meat which went into a tightly covered container and into the fridge. Put the stock through a sieve (twice) and put it in the fridge to chill out.

  • 2.

    Next I diced up some carrots, onions and celery & sauteed them, adding 3 largish cloves garlic when they were almost done. Stirred in about 2 Tblsp tomato paste and 2 tsp harissa and fried it off for a few minutes. Lifted all the now solidified fat from the stock (I love the way good stock turns to a gel!!) and added the whole lot - nearly 3 litres - into the pot. Within a minute the stock had melted and the aromas started my mouth watering! Picked over the cold lamb to make sure I hadn't missed any grungy bits then put it into the now simmering pot. Added a liberal splash (about a cup full in truth) of a rather tasty cab. sav (hard to believe we didn't drink it all last night). Fished out the preserved lemons from the pantry, discarded the flesh (as you do) and finely chopped about three quarters of a whole lemon and added it to the lamb along with a few sprigs of lemon thyme.

  • 3.

    I served it with couscous - ½ cup dried couscous p/p, ½ cup boiling water, 1-2 tblsp oil, dob butter added once 'cooked'.


* preserved lemons: never use the flesh as it is excessively salty. In moderation they add a delicate piquancy to any dish, in excess all you taste is the overriding flavour of lemon, so add a little at a time, until you reach the desired "lemonyness"

making the base stock the day before allows any fat to solidify which can then be easily skimmed.

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