Lamb shanks braised with tomatoes and basil and aubergine caponata

  • 2
  • 60 minutes plus 3-4 hours braising time

A whole lamb shank is slowly braised in a wonderfully delicate tomato sauce until meltingly tender and falling apart, ready to be served alongside an aubergine and basil caponata with plenty of pine nuts in this recipe from Paul Foster. It may take a good few hours to cook, but it's a low-effort recipe that packs a serious punch.

Paul says: 'In this recipe, the braising liquor absorbs all the deliciousness from the lamb while cooking. I use Mutti’s peeled whole tomatoes in this braising liquor because even after the long cooking times they still retain a firm and fleshy texture and can stand up to the bold flavours of the meat. The addition of Mutti's double concentrated tomato purée is an important one, as it adds an extra hit of boldness and intensity.'

First published in 2021







Preheat an oven to 130ºC/gas mark ½. Add the sunflower oil to a hot pan and brown the shanks all over. Once browned, remove from the pan and place in an ovenproof dish. Add the lamb stock or red wine to the pan to deglaze and bring to the boil, then pour over the lamb shanks


Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and balsamic vinegar, cover with a lid (or foil) and place in the oven. Cook for 3-4 hours, until a knife easily goes all the way through the lamb and the meat pulls away from the bone. Leave to rest with the lid on for 20 minutes before serving


While the shanks cook, make the caponata. Place the diced aubergine into a bowl with a good pinch of salt and leave for around 20–30 minutes. Drain then squeeze out any excess liquid


Add the olive oil to a pan and place over a medium heat. Add the aubergine and cook for about 5 minutes until golden and caramelised. Then add the onion, garlic and celery to the pan and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until soft


Add the white wine vinegar and the sugar and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until the liquid has been fully absorbed. Turn down the heat and add the olives, capers and toasted pine nuts


Stir well to warm through and then finish with a spoonful of the shank cooking liquor. Set aside until the shanks have finished cooking


To serve, remove the shanks from the dish. Lightly crush the tomatoes with the back of a fork and season the sauce with sea salt and black pepper. Divide between 2 plates along with the caponata then top with the lamb shank. Garnish with basil leaves

Focused, skilled and intelligent, Paul Foster works with the materials he has around him to create extraordinary dishes which sing with a vibrancy perfectly in tune with their surroundings.

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