I own an Instant Pot which, for the unknowing, is a multi-purpose electric cooker and, as it happens, one of the best things I have ever bought. It does almost everything –from cooking rice to making yogurt. I had always shied away from pressure cookers-all that steam and hitting buttons, frankly they terrify me. However, the Instant Pot is a wonder and, most importantly, idiot proof: programme the timer, press start and go and have a coffee – or do your nails-whatever. The work is done for you. You can have tender, falling apart lamb shanks in about 50 minutes. This, obviously, makes Stage One of this recipe incredibly easy. If you don’t have a pressure cooker –electric or otherwise- you can slow cook the lamb shanks in a low oven (about 150˚c), for 3 ½-4 hours or until the meat falls off the bone. Ideally cook the lamb the day before as it is easier to remove the solidified fat.
- For the lamb shanks
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 lamb shanks, about 1.4kg total weight
- 1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, roughly chopped
- 1 stick celery, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 1 lamb stock cube
- 1 sprig rosemary
- To finish the shepherd’s pie
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stick celery, finely chopped
- 225g mushrooms, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons plain flour
- 1 tablespoon mushroom ketchup
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme leaves
- 600g potatoes, e.g. Maris Piper, peeled and cut into quarters
- 300g peeled celeriac, roughly chopped
- 75ml milk
- 40g butter
- Heat the oil in a frying pan (or in the Instant Pot using the sauté setting) and brown the lamb shanks all over for about 5 minutes. Lift out and set aside. Add the onion, carrot and celery and soften for 5 minutes. Put the lamb shanks in the cooking pot –whichever method you are using- and add the vegetables, garlic, lamb stock cube dissolved in 500ml water and rosemary sprig. Set the Instant Pot to high pressure and programme the timer for 45 minutes. Cook the lamb shanks and once the time is up, let the pressure release naturally. Leave to cool completely. Lift out the lamb shanks and pull the meat off the bones, discarding any fatty bits. Cut the meat into bite-size pieces. Pour the cooking stock through a sieve and reserve. Discard the onion, garlic and rosemary. If you are doing this a day or two in advance you can chill both the lamb and the stock. The next day remove any solidified fat on the surface of the stock.
- To finish the cooking of the shepherd’s pie, heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed casserole or saucepan and gently cook the onion, carrots and celery for about 18-20 minutes until soft. Add the mushrooms, turn the heat up and cook for 5-6 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for one minute. Gradually stir in the mushroom ketchup and reserved cooking stock from the lamb shanks- you may not need all of it-just enough to make a sauce with the consistency of double cream. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes. Take off the heat and add the thyme. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Stir in the reserved lamb shank meat.
- Spoon into a pie dish and leave to cool while you make the mashed potatoes. Put the potatoes and celeriac in a saucepan filled with cold salted water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Drain well. Mash or put the vegetables through a potato ricer.
- Heat the oven to 200˚c, fan oven 180˚c, mark 6. Heat the milk and butter together in a small saucepan and just before it comes up to the boil pour over the mash. Beat until smooth then spread the mash over the lamb. Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.