L I T T L E  L A M B  S H A N K  P I E S


P A R M E S A N  P A S T R Y

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours 25 minutes

Serves: 4

Season: Lamb is in season from May until





30 g Parmesan cheese

90 g cold butter

250 g plain flour

3 medium eggs

1 tsp white wine vinegar

2-4 tblsp cold water


1 tblsp olive oil

4 lamb shanks, preferably the larger hind shanks

but smaller fore shanks will do

2 medium onions 

2 large carrots

1/2 small celeriac

4 garlic cloves

3 sprigs fresh rosemary

480 ml chicken stock, homemade or store bought

600 ml red wine, preferably a Grenache/Shiraz


1 tblsp plain flour

1 tblsp unsalted butter, softened

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 170°C / 325°F / gas 3.

Begin by heating the olive oil in a large casserole which can accommodate all the lamb shanks comfortably.  Brown each lamb shank on all sides and transfer to a plate.  Keep the residual oil and fat in the dish.

While the lamb shanks are browning, wash and peel the onions, carrots and celeriac and cut each into a small, equal-sized dice about 1 cm in size.  Add all the aromatic vegetables to the casserole, cover with a lid and allow to sweat for about 4 minutes — the moisture will exude out from the vegetables, which will help to loosen any brown bits stuck to the bottom.

Whilst the vegetables are cooking, peel and work the garlic into a fine paste with a little salt in a mortar.  Wash and remove the leaves from the rosemary and run your knife over them, roughly chopping and bruising them slightly.

Once the vegetables have softened, add the garlic and rosemary.  Give the whole mix a good stir, allowing the garlic and rosemary to fry gently.  Pour over the stock and bring the mixture to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any bits that are still stuck to the bottom of the casserole and incorporate into the mixture.  Reduce the stock by half before adding the wine.  Season well with salt and pepper.

Return the lamb shanks into the casserole.  Place a circular piece of parchment paper directly over the lamb shanks before covering with a tight-fitting lid.  Place into a preheated oven and cook for 2 hours.  In a small bowl, work the flour and butter into a paste and set aside for use later.  

While the lamb is cooking, make the pastry.  Finely grate the Parmesan and place it in a large bowl, along with the butter which has been cut into small cubes.  Sift the flour into the bowl.  Using your fingers work the flour into the butter, lifting the mixture as you work.  Continue rubbing the mixture together until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs.  Separate two of the eggs and lightly whisk the eggs yolks with the vinegar and 2 tblsp of water.  Drizzle over the dough and gently work the mixture into a firm ball.

Cook's note  The dough must not be too dry or it will be difficult to roll out.  Wrap in cling film and refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes.

After two hours, check on the lamb.  Remove the shanks from the casserole and set aside to cool.  Add the flour-butter paste to the pot, bring to a boil and cook until the mixture reduces and thickens, about 3-4 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 180°C / 350°F / gas 4.

Place each lamb shank into individual, oven-ready dishes.  I like to use large, deep ramekins which could hold about 350 ml liquid, but dishes that are a little larger will do — you just want to make sure you have enough space for the shank, some vegetables and sauce.  Spoon in some vegetables around the shank and underneath if there is room.  Divide the sauce between the ramekins.  Depending on how much the sauce reduced, you may have some left over.

Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and roll it out to about 7 mm thickness.  Cut into circles large enough to cover each pie-cooking vessel.  Cut a hole/slit for the shank bone.  In a small bowl lightly beat the remaining egg.  Brush one side of the pastry with egg and place the pastry egg-side-down over the shank bone.  Gently press the pastry onto the edge of the cooking vessel to secure.  Brush the top of the secured pastry with some of the remaining egg.  Place in the preheated oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.