Lamb Shank Pies

Lamb Shank Pies pre-baking

When I think of Winter, pot pies come quickly to mind. I’m not usually one for pies, however one with beautiful pastry and a tasty filling is hard to beat on a cold day. I’ve taken inspiration from Donna Hay and Katie Quinn-Davies for the presentation of these pies, both ladies have presented pies with the shank bone exposed for a quirky presentation. It certainly adds a bit of theatre when you present them to your guests. By all means leave the bone out if it doesn’t appeal to you.

For the filling
6 lamb shanks, frenched (ask your butcher to trim the shank quite short and to square it off on the bottom, otherwise it won’t stand up in the dish!)
flour, salt and pepper, for seasoning the lamb
1 onion, peeled & halved
1 carrot, peeled & halved
1 stalk celery, halved
2 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped from the stalk
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cups red wine
2 tsp porcini powder (we stock one by Herbies Spices)
1 bay leaf
peel of 1 orange (use a vegetable peeler to create strips, avoiding as much of the pith as possible)
2 x 400g cans tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt & pepper
1 batch of Quick Flaky Pastry (recipe follows), or 2-3 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg, lightly beaten to brush pastry
poppy seeds to sprinkle on pastry

Method:
Preheat oven to 150C.
Place the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and rosemary in a processor and process until finely minced.
Heat the oil in a heavy based ovenproof casserole over medium heat. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and brown for a few minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Add the minced aromatics and saute for five minutes to soften, then add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or two. Add the wine and simmer rapidly for a few minutes to evaporate the alcohol.
Add the porcini powder, bay leaf, orange peel, tomatoes, stock, vinegar, sugar and Worcestershire sauce and bring to the simmer. Return the lamb to the pan, cover with a lid and place in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is tender and will pull away easily from the bone. Remove the lamb from the pan shred meat from the bones but keep the bones for presentation.
Return the meat to the sauce and place over a medium/low heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and reduced.
Meanwhile, increase oven temperature to 190C. Have a tray handy to sit your individual pie dishes on to make it easier to move them in and out of the oven.
Divide the mixture between 6 deep serving dishes, then stand a bone in the centre of each dish.
Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 1/2 cm thick. Cut 6 pastry rounds that will fit over the dishes, then cut a hole, or a cross, in the centre so the lamb bone can protrude. Brush the pastry with a little of the egg and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
Bake for 25 mins or until golden. Serve with mashed potato or cauliflower puree, and a bowl of minted peas (recipe below).

Quick Flaky Pastry

The addition of vinegar to the pastry retards the development of gluten, thereby helping to achieve a more tender, melt in the mouth pastry. I really encourage you to practice making your own pastry, it really is easy. Also, you know what is in it – simply flour, butter, salt, water and vinegar. An excellent quality store-bought pastry, such as the brand Careme, is a good substitute. You will find this pastry in good delis and food shops in the cities, however I am not aware of it being available in Yamba 🙁

250g butter, frozen
200g plain flour
170g wholemeal spelt flour (substitute regular wholemeal if you don’t have spelt, you may need extra water though)
2 tsp salt flakes
2 tsp vinegar
1/2 cup cold water

Method:
Add the flours and salt to the bowl of a food processor and blitz to combine. Grate the frozen butter into the flour (use your processor’s grating plate to do this), then pulse until the butter is just chopped into the flour.
Sprinkle the vinegar and chilled water over the flour/butter mixture and pulse to just bring together. At this point press a small amount of mixture between your fingers – if it holds together easily there is no need to add more water. If it doesn’t, add another teaspoon of chilled water, then test again.
Tip the pastry onto a clean work surface and bring it together with your hands. Knead lightly into a smooth ball, you should still see streaks of butter in the dough. Shape into a disc, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge to rest for at least 30 mins.
Roll out on a lightly floured bench to the desired size.

Peas with Mint and Garlic

1kg frozen peas
20g butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 handful fresh mint, leaves torn if large
salt and pepper

Method:
Bring a pot of water to the boil and add a generous pinch of salt. Add the peas and cook for 1-2 minutes. Drain and return to the pan.
Add the butter and garlic to the peas along with a touch of salt and a grind of pepper. Cook over low heat to melt the butter and cook the garlic. Remove from the heat and add the fresh mint.
Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot.

Peas with Garlic and Mint
A delicious side dish to the Lamb Shank Pies

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