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Heat half the oil in a large, heavy-based casserole (with a tight-fitting lid) over a medium heat. Add the lamb shanks and cook to brown all over for a few minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in the pot and fry the onion, celery, carrot and garlic over a gentle heat for 10 minutes until really soft and beginning to colour. Return the lamb shanks to the pot and pour in the ale and stock. Season well, add the herbs, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover with the lid and cook over a low heat for 2½ hours, turning halfway through, until the lamb shanks are meltingly tender.
Remove the lamb to a warmed serving dish and keep warm under foil. Discard the bay leaves. Bring the sauce to the boil and reduce it by half until it’s nice and glossy.
Whisk in the butter and return the lamb to the casserole to warm through, if necessary. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with creamy mash.