Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks Seasoned With Sumac

This slow cooked lamb shanks recipe makes use of sumac. This is one of my favourite flavourings to use with lamb.

Am I confused, or does New Zealand have so much lamb they can export it all over the world? And if that is the case, in the UK where do all their lambs go if you can only find New Zealand lamb in the supermarkets? When we were in Scotland we saw a LOT of lambs. It was spring and the lambs were bountiful. But in the shops all we could find was New Zealand lamb. If we wanted Scottish lamb we had to go to the butcher. Now, given the choice I would rather buy local. It is grown, slaughtered and butchered without encountering freezers and accumulating travel miles. Having eaten both choices I can tell you that the local bred lamb was far better. The New Zealand lamb is expensive but still nearly 50 percent cheaper than local lamb. Something is wrong here. Our Karoo lamb is some of the finest I’ve ever come across. It is not cheap but still works out at less per kg than what the New Zealand lamb cost us in Scotland. I’ll never complain about the price again though as I can buy South African lamb at any supermarket here.

Do you buy locally farmed meat?

Slow Cooked Lamb
Slow Cooked Lamb
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Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks

Recipe Category: Lamb
All Rights Reserved: An original recipe from Lavender and Lime


  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
  • 5 g fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
  • 75 mls Greek yoghurt
  • 5 mls olive oil
  • 250 mls red wine
  • 2 large carrots, thickly sliced
  • 2.5 mls sumac
  • 10 mls arrow root


  • Place the lamb shanks into a large Ziploc bag with the lemon zest, lemon juice, the lemon, garlic, mint and yoghurt
  • Seal the bag and rub the marinade over the lamb
  • Leave to marinade for 5 hours
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan – I used my tagine
  • Brown the lamb and set aside
  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine
  • Add the marinade, excluding the lemon
  • Return the lamb to the pan
  • Add the carrots and the sumac
  • Cover and simmer for 2 hours
  • Preheat the oven to 160° Celsius
  • Remove the shanks after 2 hours and place into an ovenproof dish
  • Finish them off in the oven while you reduce the gravy
  • Increase the heat and mix the arrow root into the gravy
  • Stir in well, and allow to reduce until nice and thick

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35 thoughts on “Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks Seasoned With Sumac

  1. Tandy, this is a lovely recipe and it definitely goes on my winter list.

    Is it not strange that when I was in Morocco I did not bother with the season and had a lamb tagine with outside temps of 40° C and more, but at home I do? I love the combination of yogurt, lemon and sumac. I will have to look up arrow root though.

    Is it still cold in SA? Spring is close, no?

    1. Good morning Barbara – in the Western Cape where we live, winter seems to last a lot longer. We are still having storms and I reckon we have another month of cold before spring starts showing her face. You are so lucky to have gone to Morocco, this is on my bucket list. Arrow root is a thickener, so you can use tapioca flour or even cornflour. Have a super weekend 🙂

  2. NZ lamb does seem to have taken over the world, and it’s a shame that the best value is frozen. French lamb is very expensive in comparison and I personally don’t think that it’s that much better and certainly not worth the extra money in these hard times.

    1. That is interesting to note Roger. We did not buy lamb in France at all. I will look closely at the prices when we are in Europe next 🙂

  3. I only ever remember NZ lamb in England, even when I was growing up there. It is a very strange thing when you consider the lushness of the English pastures. Your recipe sounds really tasty, and I will copy it for future use. Thanks so much. 🙂

    1. Dave told me that post war a lot of meat was brought into the UK! So sad, as the local farmers should have been supported rather 🙂

  4. Wow Tandy, that sounds superb!! I love the idea of using the ziplock bag – much less messy! Will have to try this soon and invite you and Dave around when I am confident that I can get it right 🙂

  5. Hi Tandy, love reading your blog. The lamb entry was very interesting as I love in South Wales in the UK and our lamb is very well thought of and available at most of the local supermarkets. In fact most of the lamb that is fresh and not frozen over here in the UK is British produce, in the last few years New Zealand have started sending over chilled lamb and not the frozen lamb that used to be available very widely (I think a hangover from the last world war), I bought it when I was first married a long time ago but always found it to be rather dry and very tough. The chilled New Zealand lamb I would say is cheaper that what we produce locally – how so when it travels to far, and is very good quality, but I personally would availways buy British Lamb. We also export a lot of our lamb to France, although this has proved rather controversal as the French like to slaughter the lamb they sell themselves so it meant transporting live lambs from the UK to France is this really did cause quite an issue several years ago. Have not heard much on that score for some time now. Sorry this has turned into such a long post but did find your entry and the comments you received on it so interesting and felt that somebody in the UK should write and explain how it seems here.

    1. Dear Wendy, thank you so much for your comment and the facts! Dave and I will be visiting Wales in 2014 and I am looking forward to trying the local lamb, as well as the other produce. Have a super weekend 🙂

  6. No tandy you are not confused because in NZ lamb is almost impossible to find as it is mostly for export. Even the restaurants find it hard to keep on their menus. And it is outrageously expensive. Mine is not though. Growing your own is the way to go!! lovely slow cooked lamb.. mm..c

    1. I would love to grow my own! We live close to farm country so I could bribe a friend to do that for me ;). How sad the NZ lamb is not available in NZ. Thanks for the comment and the visit 🙂

  7. Love this slow cooked lamb recipe, just looks like its falling off the bone tender. I’ve wanted to get a tagine, those I’ve seen look small and I wonder how all the food would fit! Unless its just for two!

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