Monday, 2 February 2009

This week I'm loving....prunes

How very timely...after Christmas and being healthy and all that... I actually came across this funny prune in work the other day and thought I'd share it with you. So I just had to love them this week. I do actually like prunes - although why is it that people think you have a constipation problem if you're seen eating them?!!

My love for prunes (while working perfectly regularly thank you!) combined with this freezing cold weather at the moment has reminded me of my yummy lamb shank casserole...


Serves 4

4 Lamb shanks (about 400g each)

2 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, very finely diced

1 large carrot, very finely diced
2 sticks celery, very finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
leaves from 2 sprigs thyme
1 bottle dry red wine (merlot is good)

300ml beef stock

250g pitted ready to eat prunes, halved

2 tbsp tomato puree

creamy mash & some green beans, to serve

salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160C / Gas 3. Heat a large oven proof casserole dish or saucepan (that has a tight fitting lid to match) on a high heat. Dust the lamb shanks evenly with the flour and season well. Drizzle the oil into the casserole and sear the lamb shanks all over for a few minutes until golden (you may have to work in two batches). Remove and leave aside.

Next, reduce the heat and add the onion, carrot, celery and saute gently for 8-10 minutes until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and thyme and saute for a minute more. Return the lamb shanks to the casserole and then pour the wine and stock over. Add the prunes, tomato puree and season well. Bring slowly to the boil and cover with the lid.

Bake in the oven for about 2 hours until the meat is falling from the bone and the sauce is rich and thickened. If you want to thicken the sauce a little more, remove the lamb shanks (and keep warm) and place the casserole on a high heat, allowing the sauce to bubble down until reduced enough (with lid off of course). Check seasoning at this point also.

Arrange a lamb shank on each serving plate and spoon a little of the sauce over. Delicious served with creamy mash and green beans.

You can make this up to 2 days in advance and simply reheat on a gentle heat, adding a little water if the sauce has thickened too much. I know prunes don't scream romance but this would be a delicious valentines meal - you won't even know the prunes are there - honest!

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