It's only the first week of September, but apparently summer is over. There is a chill in the air, and although it's quite sunny today it rained all last week and it was cold enough that I had to get the winter duvet out. Mostly it's just been folded over my feet in bed, to the cat's delight, but I needed to know it was there.
I'm really not quite ready to embrace the colder months. I haven't had my fill of summer salads and fruits, lightly grilled fish and well-chilled white wine. But the other night I was cold and lamb shanks were discounted.
Lamb shanks with borlotti beans and gremolata (serves 2 with leftover beans)
200g dried borlotti beans (or 1 400g can cooked beans if you don't have time/can't be bothered)
2 bay leaves
2 anchovy fillets
3 fat cloves garlic, peeled but whole
1 onion, finely diced
2 sticks celery, sliced
2 lamb shanks
white wine or vermouth
2 sprigs rosemary
Bunch flat leaf parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1 fat clove garlic, extra
Boil the beans and bay leaves hard in lots of water for about 45 minutes or until just tender - this does away with the need to pre-soak them. Drain.
In a flameproof casserole, warm a good slug of olive oil and add the anchovy fillets, garlic, onion and celery. Cook over a medium heat until the vegetables soften, then turn heat up, add the shanks and brown on all sides. Add a healthy glassful of white wine or vermouth, and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes to reduce a bit. Then add the drained beans and enough chicken stock to just cover them. Add the rosemary, cover with a cartouche and the lid and allow to simmer over a low heat. Depending on the age of the lamb and how long you have in hand, it'll be OK in an hour and better in two. Taste for seasoning and add pepper and additional salt if needed.
Mince together the parsley, lemon zest and extra garlic, and use most of it as a garnish, stirring the rest of it into the beans to give them a lift and a small reminder of summer.