The skies are beginning to bruise and the winds rise. Somewhere, as the autumn evenings draw in, you can find a congregation of tweeded chaps in a huddle, usually watching rugby, in dire need of hearty food.
My favourite dish for this time of year is the Lamb shank pie – a meal that fills the heart with warmth.
The day before your pals cause chaos, you should prep the pies. As always one must have an autumnal pre-walk whisky, slip the swollen feet into unforgiving loafers and amble off to Waitrose.
6 whole lamb shanks
2 bottles of Bordeaux
A carton of tomato juice
Fresh thyme and rosemary
Mirepoix of onion, leek, celery, garlic, and a 1kg peeled carrots
2k maris piper potatoes
Preheat the oven to 160c
Using an already heated pan, seal the outside of the shanks and place in a large le crueset pot (or similar).
Saute the mirepoix veg and pop into said le crueset.
Slop half a bottle of Bordeaux, the carton of Tom. Juice, a liberal squeeze of tomato puree, and finally cover in beef stock.
Don’t forget to add the thyme, rosemerry and lots of salt.
Bring the concoction to the boil. Pop a lid on and place it in the oven.
Put on an Inspector Morse. Leave the lamb in the oven for 3-4 hours (checking at three), drink the rest of the wine, until the meat naturally melts off the bone. It is absolutely fine to overcook but criminal to under.
Carefully remove the shanks and carrots. Cool.
Reduce the sauce on a high heat until it is like an unctuous gravy. Pass the sauce through a sieve into a jug.
Using individual pie dishes (you can use a large dish, but lose all the theatre) crudely tear the lamb and popping in the meat with the bone sticking a good inch out.
Dice the carrots as small as you can and tumble over the meat. Pour the gravy equally between the pies. Pop in the fridge and wait ’till tomorrow.
Remove pies an hour before serving and make some basic mash, adding the garlic puree. Using a piping bag zig zag the mash over the top and cook at 180 for 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Enjoy with ale