Lamb shanks with caramelised onion recipe by Sophie Conran

This dish is rich, sweet and tender

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 4 lamb shanks
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 2 large onions, peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 5 cloves
  • 1⁄2 tsp each of ground turmeric, nutmeg, cumin and coriander
  • 750ml/11⁄4pt lamb or chicken stock
  • A handful each of dried apricots, prunes, jumbo sultanas and pine nuts


Preheat the oven to 160°C, 300°F, Gas 2. Season the lamb shanks with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole with a lid, over a high heat. Add the lamb shanks and brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate until needed.

Reduce the heat and melt the butter in the casserole. Add the onions and gently fry for about 20 minutes, until soft and translucent. Stir in the sugar, sherry vinegar and spices and continue frying for 5-10 minutes, until the onions are nicely caramelised.

Stir in the stock, dried fruit and pine nuts. Nestle the lamb shanks in the mixture on their sides, then pop the lid on the casserole and transfer to the preheated oven for 21⁄2 hours, turning the shanks halfway through. Serve with a crunchy salad and plain basmati rice tossed with plenty of chopped dill.

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