Lamb Shanks in Irish Stout

by Kristin on October 21, 2011

The last time I cooked lamb shanks, about four years ago, it didn’t end well. I’d made a Nigella Lawson recipe for lamb shanks and beans, but I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, with the usual ailments — sensitive to smell and with occasional morning sickness. I could barely stand the smell of the lamb as it was cooking, and after just one bite I gave one of the shanks to the dog and threw the rest straight into the wheelie bin outside so I wouldn’t be able to smell it anymore.

But then a few weeks ago I picked up a copy of Jamie’s Great Britain and saw his recipe for Guinness Lamb Shanks and decided to give them another try, figuring that if I didn’t like them prepared this way, then I probably never would. And I did! It’s the lamb shank redemption.


Lamb Shanks in Irish Stout
adapted from Jamie’s Great Britain by Jamie Oliver

Serves 6

This recipe is called Guinness Lamb Shanks in Jamie Oliver’s book, but I’d rather support one of Ireland’s excellent craft breweries instead (I used O’Hara’s Leann Folláin Stout). Jamie also calls for the shanks to be served intact, but serving up a big bone on a plate seems more medieval than rustic, so I removed the meat from the bones and shredded it and served it that way instead.

3 red onions, finely chopped
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 handfuls of raisins
3 heaped tablespoons thick-cut marmalade
1 heaped tablespoon ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, plus extra for serving
200 ml stout or dark ale
6 lamb shanks, roughly 350g each
8 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 litre chicken stock

To serve:
mashed potatoes (or a blend of potatoes and celeriac, which is what Jamie calls for)
a small bunch of fresh mint leaves
a few tablespoons of rapeseed or olive oil
2 spring onions, trimmed
cider vinegar

Put the onions into a really large Dutch oven or casserole-type pan (roughly 26 cm in diameter and 12 cm deep) with a lug of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Cook over a medium to high heat, stirring as you go, until the onions start to caramelise. Add the raisins and marmalade, then add the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and beer. Give it all a good stir, then leave to gently simmer.

Meanwhile, put the lamb shanks into a large frying pan (roughly 30 cm wide) on a medium to high heat with a drizzle of olive oil, cooking them in batches if needed. Turn them over every few minutes; once they have some good colour, pick in the rosemary leaves and move them around in the pan to get crispy, but don’t let them burn. Use tongs to move the shanks into the pan of onions, then pour in all their juices and the crispy rosemary. Add the stock, put the lid on, turn down the heat and leave to blip away slowly for around 3 hours, or  until the meat falls off the bone easily. Try to turn the shanks halfway through so they cook evenly. About 30 minutes before the lamb is cooked, start making your mashed potatoes.

When the lamb shanks are ready, carefully move them to a plate. Whiz or liquidise the gravy with a stick blender until smooth, then allow the gravy to reduce down and thicken. Quickly bash most of the mint leaves in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of salt and some oil, then take to the table. Finely slice up the spring onions and toss on a plate with the remaining mint leaves, a drizzle of cider vinegar and a pinch of salt.

By now the mashed potatoes should be ready, so put them on a platter or individual plates and put the lamb on top. Add a little splash of cider vinegar and a few more splashes of Worcestershire sauce to the sauce, then ladle it all over the platter or plates and pour the rest into a jug for people to help themselves. Scatter the vinegary spring onions and a few fresh mint leaves all over the top, drizzle the mint oil all around the lamb, and serve.

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

sinead orourke October 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm

I would treat my mother to some cookbooks to add to her collection so she can cook or bake me beautiful food :)


Grainne October 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Maybe a nice cookbook with some winter warming recipes. I need to make some comfort food to warm me up as the cold winter approaches. ! If the Fairy Hobmother came to me I would have to be quick spending my voucher on a nice cookbook before my kids got their hands on it to buy some games!


catherine bailey October 26, 2011 at 12:56 pm

i would put the money towards the fryer that only use table spoon of oil


Jonathan October 26, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Don’t bother Catherine, they’re crap! But if you really want one, have mine. Used just once.
Alternatively, buy Aunt Bessies (crinkle or plain). Snip the top off the bag, pour in some olive oil (more oil = tastier chips) & shake the bag around to distribute the oil then distribute on a baking tray, sprinkle with a little salt & cook at 220c for around 20 minutes or so. Delish!
If you must have fresh potato, cut the chips chunky, oil & salt as above etc, & ovenate them at the highest temp your oven will go. Don’t forget to turn half way through.
Also delish but more work. Cheap though.


Ciara O'Mahony October 26, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Fairy Hobmother, Fairy Hobmother
To you I send this humble request
I ask not for too much just a little
help in the kitchen in the form of SOS (the six o’clock scramble)
and for evening’s with more time maybe a little of Jamie’s Great Britain! :)


Sara Lynch October 26, 2011 at 1:52 pm

From the Fairy Hobmother I would literally ask for a new hob. . as the glass on my Grandmother’s is broken so it would be nice to surprise her for Christmas!
Love the website by the way :)


Liliana October 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

I’d love a food processor. :)


john October 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

If the fairy hobmother came to me and i got the voucher i would buy my beautiful wife a recipe book on indian cooking as she is gone mad into indian food. Thanks


richard cross October 26, 2011 at 4:26 pm

a kindle if i could afford one …lol


seamus October 26, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I really would love a new set of steak knives on amazon!!!


Evelyn Dalton October 26, 2011 at 9:03 pm

A food mixer i could do with 1 mine is broke and no money 2 buy 1 so please.


garrett mccord October 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Lamb and Guinness – two of my favourite things! I could really use that voucher for a new food processor – mine is kaput :)


Nicola Dyer October 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm

If the Fairy Hob Mother was to grant me a wish I would wish for a food processor for our new home that we moved into yesterday! xxxx


M. Halpin October 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm

The new Deep Fat Fryer that uses very little oil


David O Driscoll October 27, 2011 at 11:14 am

Recipe sound yummy, love lamb!


Orla Dalton October 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

The above dish looks yummy…
If I was to buy anything it would be good saucepans.


laura October 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I would treat myself to an air fryer – i have been hoping for one for so long :)


Marion October 27, 2011 at 9:11 pm

I would treat myself to a new microwave


niamh October 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm

fairy hob mother i’d really love a food processor if my wish is your command


Emer October 27, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Would finally buy my poor mother a decent and matching set of saucepans after 40 years of marriage. Nice Christmas present for her :D


Siobhan October 27, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I have Jamie’s Great Britain and it’s a lovely book.
I’d so love a visit from the fairy hob mother and I would put anything ‘amazonish’ towards a Kenwood Chef. I soooo need/want one pleeeease : ) loving your blog!


Joanne O Dwyer October 28, 2011 at 12:15 am

Hi – I would love an Amazon voucher to buy me some diet books- gonna need them after reading this recipe- it sounds and looks delicious!!! I’m starvin and its quarter past twelve in the dead of night – what do I do now??? Only lamb shanks will do……..


Mom October 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm

I’d have to put it towards a Kindle so that I could have all my cookbooks wherever I might be!


Joanne October 29, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I know I’m a day late entering, but here’s hoping!! I’d love to purchase a Kenwood Chef – my mother has hers for over 35 years and it’s still going strong. It’s probably the only major gap left in my kitchen appliances and gear.

BTW – nice selection of Jamie’s Great Britain. I’ve been watching the TV show, and he’s doing some great stuff on it.


Karrieann October 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

…I am late as well, just like Joanne… here is hoping too!

But first a bit of information… I have seen on many other bloggers’ blogs reporting about this delightful enchanting “Fairy Hobmother”. I went about my research via google and found that many many bloggers have been blessed, many thanks to Fairy Hobmother!

Then I thought and thought that if I was granted a wish I wanted it to be very special request of a wish.

Finally, I thought about the donation requests widget that I have going on at my personal blog ( It says “DR. VONTHREADMORE, AKA KRYSTLEDAWNE, TRAVEL FUND FOR PTG’S TAT DAYS 2012, PLEASE”. This is the story about the fund raiser. Dr. VonThreadmore is my daughter’s alter-ego! My daughter is Krystledawne (her blog: and she is one talented gal. As her Mom, I am proud of her. She does tatting ( I do too, but she is way better than me!). Tatting is fine art of making fine lace with thread. Krystle teaches tatting on her own time and have taught at “Tat Days”. She lives in Washington state and I live in Georgia (USA). I have gone to two Tat Days that is close to where I live. Krystle has been unable to attend that one. She would be able to the scholarship fund with Palmetto Tatters Guild (, but the scholarship only covers the room, food and registration fees for the Tat Days event, not the airfare costs of traveling from Washington state to Georgia. So I have set up a donation fund for anyone at all to contribute to the Dr. VonThreadmore’s trip. So.. that would be my wish.. a donation of any domination, even a dollar.
The alter-ego Dr.VonThreadmore is who my daughter is when she begins her adventure in hand dying threads into wonderful colors of her vision for tatters, crocheters, and other thread work done by talented hands across the globe!

It would be wonderful to be in one of my daughter’s…uhhh I meant Dr. VonThreadmore’s class!



Rouxbe Michael November 21, 2012 at 7:14 pm

It’s cold and rainy here in Vancouver Canada right now and I’m searching for a fantastic Irish Stew. This looks like it might just hit the spot as well. I’ve made JO’s slow roasted lamb shank and its a fantastic meal in the winter months. This may be hitting the table in my home this weekend…


Kristin November 26, 2012 at 3:18 pm

You’re right, this is perfect rainy day food. Hope it hits the spot!


Rachel Donahue October 6, 2013 at 6:58 am

Hi Kristin,
I’ve never used Marmelade in a stew. Could I use something like an orange marmelade here in the States? Which kind should I use?


Kristin October 6, 2013 at 9:33 am

Hi Rachel – any kind of orange marmalade would be fine, or you could just leave it out altogether and the recipe would still be good without it.


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