The first time I had lamb shanks was at Mulligan's, an Irish restaurant in Sydney. I remember how tender the meat was and it just melted in the mouth, together with the luscious red wine gravy and mashed potatoes. Well, that was a really really long time ago, and since then, I had always wanted to cook lamb shanks but never did until now, after I bought a french oven that's large enough to fit those shanks. I decided to make a Thai version by braising the lamb in massamum curry with some potatoes. I had it in the oven long enough that the meat was so tender and just fell off the bone. It was delicious, and with all curries, it tastes even better the next day!
Massamun Curry Lamb Shanks
6 lamb shanks (about 2kg or 4lbs)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
110g (4oz) massaman curry paste
2 cups coconut cream
2 cups reduced-salt beef stock
1 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
3-4 tbsp palm sugar (or to taste)
2 tbsp tamarind pulp concentrate
1/4 cup ground/chopped peanuts (optional)
500g (1 lb) potatoes, peeled and cut into golf-ball sized
Coriander leaves, for garnish
Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Rub some salt over the lamb shanks. Heat up the vegetable oil in a large dutch/french oven or and sear the lamb in 2 batches on high heat, about 8 minutes each batch until browned. Transfer to a plate.
Using the oil left in the dutch oven, fry the onions, star anise, cinnamon stick and cardamom for 3 minutes, and then add the massaman curry paste. Fry until fragrant, then add half the coconut cream. Fry for 1-2 minutes until the oil starts to separate. Add the rest of the coconut cream and beef stock. Bring to a boil, then add the lamb shanks. Cover with a lid and place in the oven to cook for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven and add fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind pulp and peanuts. Stir well to mix. Add the potatoes and cook in the oven again for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on the stove on medium-high heat. Remove the lid and let it boil for about 10 minutes to let the curry reduce slightly until thickened.