To my mind, in Scotland, autumn is the most glorious season of the year. The land is lit up in an array of colours reflecting the sun sitting low on the horizon giving its last vestiges of warmth to the land before the days drift into impenetrable darkness. And the bounty of the natural larder is at its most wonderful. Trees are filled with fruit of all kinds, brambles plentifully entwined amongst them and along hedgerows, the land begins to give up her roots, brassicas and fungus, venison is plentiful after a long summer on the hills and spring lambs are at their finest.
Autumn is also the season when long slow cooking makes a welcome return. After a summer of barbecues and picnics, as we reach for scarves and coats we also look forward to casseroles and stews. The recipe here reflects a lot of what is readily available in season at the start of autumn and with very little effort yields a lot of flavour, the ale if you go for something blonde or even spirit cask aged adds a sweet and spicy dimenson. I would serve this in a bowl with fresh crusty bread but you could also let the relatively thin jus soak into a pile of buttery crushed late crop potatoes. And a bottle of ale naturally.
Lamb shanks braised in ale
2 lamb shanks
Butter and oil for browning
2 carrots roughly sliced
1 onion roughly chopped
1 leek sliced
1 kale roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 sprigs rosemary
1 330ml bottle blonde ale
Salt and pepper
- Set the oven to 120C, rub the shanks in a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- In a heavy based casserole dish melt the butter with a little more oil over a medium heat and then brown the shanks well all over.
- Strew the carrot, onions, leeks and garlic vegetables around the lamb then add the kale and rosemary on top.
- Pour over the ale making sure you push the kale down into it to prevent it withering. Let the liquid come to a bubble then cover and place in the oven.
- Braise for around 4 hours until the lamb is melting off the bone, you can check after 3 to make sure it’s not drying out, if it is add a little water.
- Check for seasoning and serve as detailed above.