spanish lamb – lamb shanks braised in rioja, chorizo and paprika, with tomato and green olive pearl barley and roasted amber and rosso vine tomatoes

After I went to the butchers yesterday and bought a couple of lamb shanks, I spent some time trying to think of an interesting way to cook them. Some obvious cuisines came to mind, but one I cook rarely is Spanish. Not only that, but I can’t say I’ve ever had Spanish-style lamb!

This was really easy to make, you just have to account for the cooking time – the only way to cook lamb shanks is low and slow. It’s a low cost yet fresh dish, which is so hearty and filling.



lamb shanks

1 tbsp olive oil

2 x lamb shanks

plain flour, for dusting

1 x medium onion, diced

1 tsp smoked garlic, finely chopped (replace with normal garlic if you can’t get your hands on any!)

1 x courgette, sliced

1 tbsp smoked paprika

110g chorizo, sliced

1 tsp cracked dried red chillies

1 tsp tomato puree

150ml rioja

1 x tin of chopped tomatoes

1 x lamb stock cube

3 x sprigs fresh rosemary

salt and pepper

tomato and green olive pearl barley

knob of butter

1 x medium onion, diced

1 x garlic clove, finely chopped

150g pearl barley

1 x sweet mirabella pepper, chopped (replace with 1 x red or orange bell pepper or sweet pointed pepper if you can’t find mirabella)

8 green olives, pitted and sliced

125ml white wine – although i did use prosecco as i had it open anyway!

1 x tin of chopped tomatoes

400ml hot vegetable stock

salt and pepper

roasted amber and rosso vine tomatoes

2 tbsp olive oil

425g amber and rosso vine tomatoes

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

serves 2


  1. pre-heat oven to 150ºc. prep the lamb shank by using a sharp knife to remove the silver skin and thick pieces of fat. i chose to french trim the bone at the top – simply slice down approx 2 inches alongside the bone and remove the fat at the top of the shank. if you remove any meat, throw it in the pan to add flavour to the sauce.
  2. in a large casserole pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. add onions and smoked garlic and soften for 5 minutes. add the courgette.
  3. increase heat to medium-high. dust the lamb shanks in plain flour, and add to the pan. ensure all sides are browned. add the paprika, chorizo, chillies and tomato puree, and stir to combine. pour in the rioja and leave to reduce to approx 50% of original volume.
  4. add in the tinned tomatoes and crumble in the lamb stock cube. if it needs a little more liquid to help cover the shanks, then add some water. add the rosemary and season to taste.
  5. put a lid on the pan and pop into the oven. i left mine to cook for about 3 hours, and stirred it 2-3 times only.
  6. about 40 mins before your lamb is due to come out of the oven, make a start on the pearl barley. heat the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion and garlic. cook until softened – this should only take you about 5 minutes.
  7. add the pearl barley, pepper and green olives and increase heat to medium-high. stir well and ensure all the barley is coated in butter. pour in the wine – this should bubble up and soak into the barley very quickly.
  8. pour in the tin of tomatoes and stir well. ensure you stir regularly as it’s easy for the ingredients to stick to the bottom of the pan on a higher heat! once the liquid begins to soak in to the pearl barley, start to add the stock 1 ladleful at a time – you need to treat it a little like cooking risotto! it should 30 minutes to soften and lose its chewy texture. season to taste.
  9. approx 20 mins before the lamb is due to come out of the oven, add the oil, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar to a roasting pan. season and pop in the oven (as the oven temp is low for the lamb, i move the lamb right to the bottom of the oven and have the tomatoes on the highest shelf).
  10. this should ensure that all components are ready at the same time! if the barley takes a little longer or a little less, the lamb and the tomatoes can easily stay in a little longer or come out a little earlier thanks to the low heat! to serve, i dished up a healthy portion of the pearl barley, topped with the tomatoes, and used a slotted spoon to remove each lamb shank from the pan. you have to be careful as the meat is so tender it falls off the bone really easily! place alongside the barley and spoon over extra pan juices (including those slices of chorizo and courgette!).




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