This is wonderful for cold days and perfect for serving when you want to relax and enjoy the company with no last minute hurdles.


  • 1 tblsp sunflower oil
  • 4 lamb shanks (well trimmed and knuckles removed)
  • 200 g carrots (cut into wedges)
  • 1 onion (roughly chopped)
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig, plus extra to garnish
  • 50 g pearl barley (washed)
  • 1.5 l (2 1/2 pints) beef stock
  • 600 ml red wine
  • 1 tsp light muscovado sugar (optional)
  • 12 baby pearl onions (peeled)
  • 1 kg potatoes (cut into chunks)
  • 75 g butter
  • 1 bunch spring onions (trimmed and finely chopped)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F/Gas 3). Heat oil in a large casserole with a lid over a high heat. Add the lamb shanks and fry until lightly browned on all sides, turning regularly with a tongs. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add the carrots, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes until lightly golden. Tip into a bowl and set aside.

Return the lamb shanks to the casserole with the herbs and barley. Pour over the stock and wine to cover. Season to taste and cover tightly with foil and then the lid. Bring to the boil before transferring to the oven to braise for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the casserole from the oven, add the reserved vegetables and pearl onions and cook for another hour until the lamb is very tender and almost falling off the bone.

Strain the cooking liquid into a separate wide pan and then put the lid back on the casserole to keep the lamb shanks and vegetables warm. Bring the cooking liquid back to a simmer, then cook for 25-30 minutes until reduced to a sauce consistency. Season to taste and if you think that the sauce is too bitter add the sugar.

Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes or until completely tender. Drain and mash until smooth. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over a medium heat and sauté the spring onions for 2-3 minutes until tender but not coloured. Beat in the mashed potatoes and season to taste.

To serve, spoon the mashed potatoes on to serving plates and arrange a lamb shanks on top of each one. Spoon the vegetables to the side and drizzle around the reduced sauce. Garnish with rosemary sprigs.


Neven's tip: When buying the lamb shanks, ask your butcher to trim off any excess fat and remove the knuckles - it will save what can be a difficult job. They are extremely good value for money so it's well worth seeking them out. The flavour of this dish only improves if you make it a day ahead - just reheat gently on top of the stove to serve.