These dramatic looking pies are made by covering whole braised lamb shanks with pastry and sliding them into the oven to bake with their bones poking out the top. Lamb shanks benefit from a long, slow cooking time to break down tough connective tissues; this can be done ahead and the pies finished and baked when you’re ready to eat. This recipe can be easily doubled to serve a larger crowd.
Braised Lamb Shank Pot Pies
4 1 lb. (454 g) lamb shanks, trimmed of any excess fat
canola or olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2–3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh rosemary and/or thyme
2 cups (500 ml) red wine (or beef stock)
1–2 cups (250-500 ml) beef stock
pastry for a double crust pie (see recipe here)
1 egg, lightly beaten
In a large oven-proof pot set over medium-high heat, heat a drizzle of oil and brown the shanks in batches, sprinkling with salt and pepper and turning to sear all sides. Transfer to a plate and add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic to the pan and cook for two to three minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and tomato paste and cook, stirring to loosen any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 300F.
Return the lamb shanks to the pot, add the rosemary or thyme, wine and beef stock, cover and bake for two-and-a-half to three hours, until the meat is tender.
Place each lamb shank in a small, deep oven-proof bowl – one with sides that come up about as high as the meat on each shank. Divide the gravy and vegetables between the bowls as well.
Turn the oven up to 400F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry to about quarter-inch thick. Cut into rough circles about an inch bigger around than the tops of your bowls, and cut a 1-inch whole in the middle (or slightly off centre for those with leaning shanks). Brush the edge of the bowls with beaten egg and drape a pastry circle over each shank, putting the shank bone through the hole. Press the edge to seal around the edge of the bowl and brush the pastry with egg. Place the pies on a baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Serves 4.
Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, May 2014.