Recipe and images: Fire & Thyme
Lamb shanks are a winter favourite. Slowly braised, their meat falls off the bone, making them the perfect comfort food. With spring here it’s time to put away the crock pot and dust of the BBQ, but that doesn’t mean you have to relinquish the joys of the shank.
The slow smoking adds flavour while resulting in melt in the mouth lamb.
4 lamb shanks
½ tbsp salt
½ tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp chopped rosemary
½ tbsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp paprika
1½ cups dry couscous
1½ cups chicken stock
1 bunch of asparagus
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
100g feta crumbled
zest of one lemon
½ cup fresh mint, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Cumin Yoghurt Sauce
½ cup Greek yoghurt
juice of ½ a lemon
1 tbsp fresh mint, thinly sliced
¼ tsp cumin
½ tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp honey
salt and pepper
Prepare the lamb shanks by placing them on a board and patting the surface of the meat dry with paper towels. Mix the salt, pepper, herbs and spices together in a small bowl to create a rub, then drizzle the lamb shanks lightly in olive oil and massage the rub all over the meat.
Set up a charcoal BBQ kettle for a low and slow cook via your chosen method, aiming for a consistent temperature of 120°C.
Place the lamb shanks on the grill, away from the heat source. Once the lamb shanks are in position, add your wood chunks to the coal and close the lid.
After the lamb shanks have been smoking for an hour, adjust your spray bottle to a fine mist, open the BBQ and give them a very light spray of water, being careful not to disturb the rub by spraying too directly or heavily. Repeat this process every hour, topping up or adjusting your coal and wood as needed to maintain the consistent temperature of 120°C.
Around the 6-hour mark, the lamb shanks should be getting close to being done. The meat should be starting to pull away from the bones, a nice bark (crust) should have formed and the internal temperature will have reached the target zone (88°C through to 102°C). Remove from the heat and cover with foil to keep warm.
Before extinguishing the coals, add the asparagus spears to the direct heat side of the grill and cook them off for 5 minutes, rotating them regularly, until just tender with a nice char. Remove from the heat, and slice into shorter lengths.
While the lamb is cooking, prepare the yoghurt dressing by mixing all the ingredients together in a small bowl or jar and seasoning to your taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the couscous salad by adding the dry couscous to a bowl and adding the hot chicken stock. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes, before fluffing the couscous up with a fork.
Add the charred asparagus lengths, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds, onion, feta, lemon zest and mint to the couscous, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
Transfer the lamb shanks to a serving dish, shredding the meat from the bones and piling up the smoked meat if you wish, otherwise leaving them as they are.
To serve, place a generous portion of the couscous onto a bowl or plate, add the smoked lamb shank meat, then drizzle over some of the yoghurt dressing. Optionally, garnish the salad with extra pine nuts, pomegranate seeds and sliced mint.
NOTE: If you don’t have a kettle style BBQ you can cook the shanks in the oven. They will cook the same, they just won’t have the smokey flavour.