Although lamb shanks and prunes are normally associated with hearty winter fare, with the addition of cantaloupe melon and a refreshing melon and California Prune pickle Pascal Aussignac turns them into a fresh summer dish. Perfect for the barbecue or al fresco dining, these lamb shanks are first braised before being grilled which results in tender flesh with a lovely charred crust. After braising the lamb shanks reserve or freeze the cooking liquor to use as a rich stock for other dishes.
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Begin by preparing the lamb shanks. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat, then add the lamb shanks and sear on all sides until browned. Season well with salt and pepper
2 tbsp of olive oil
2 lamb shanks
freshly ground black pepper
Reduce the heat to low and add the chopped leeks, onion, carrots, garlic and bay leaf to the pan along with enough water to cover. Cover the pan with a lid and allow to simmer for 2 hours, until the lamb is tender bit still holding its shape
2 leeks, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 head of garlic, halved
1 bay leaf
Meanwhile, use a melon baller to scoop out 24 balls from the melons and place them in the fridge until ready to serve. Peel and roughly chop the remaining melon flesh and transfer to a blender. Blitz to a smooth purée and decant to a bowl
2 cantaloupe melons, or charentais
Add the chopped prunes and pickle to the bowl of melon purée and mix well. Reserve in the fridge until ready to serve
150g of California Prunes, finely chopped
30g of pickle, small dice
Once cooked, remove the lamb from the braising liquid and allow to cool, passing the liquid through a fine sieve if reserving for future use
Preheat a grill or barbecue, adding pine needles to the charcoal of the latter to add flavour to the smoke
pine needles, for smoking (optional)
Carve the lamb shanks into even slices, allowing 2–3 pieces per person, and brush generously with oil. Place the pieces of lamb onto the barbecue or grill and cook until heated through and lightly charred
1 tbsp of olive oil
To serve, divide the melon balls between serving plates and dot spoonfuls of the prune and melon pickle across the dish. Top with the barbecued lamb slices, season generously and garnish with sprigs of monk's beard. Serve immediately
1 handful of monk's beard
freshly ground black pepper
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