Andy Fenner’s sweet-potato gnocchi with shredded lamb

This is one of those underrated dishes that's not particularly difficult to make. Plus, if you use sweet potato, it's a lot healthier than most starches.


4 lamb shanks
A dusting of flour
A splash of oil
1 finely chopped onion
handful of finely chopped carrot
handful of finely chopped celery
handful of chopped rosemary
handful of roughly chopped parsley
3 crushed garlic cloves
1-2 finely chopped chillies
2 x 400g cans of tomatoes
½ a bottle of red wine
3-4 peeled, cooked and mashed sweet potatoes
about 2 cups of flour
1 free-range egg
a pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper


For the gnocchi:
Make sure the sweet potatoes are well mashed. While they are still warm, add the flour, egg and nutmeg. Season well with salt and pepper and knead to make a warm, soft dough. If you need to, add some flour or water. Cover with a clean tea towel for five minutes.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and roll out the dough to form a long, thin “sausage”. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1cm pieces. Use a fork and squash each piece to form ridges on one side. Place the pieces on a floured baking tray.
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi pieces in batches. The gnocchi are ready when they rise to the surface. When this happens, scoop them out gently and set aside.

For the shanks:
Preheat your oven to 140ºC. Dust the shanks in flour and brown them in a deep, ovenproof pot. Remove and set aside.

Gently fry the onion, carrot and celery in the pot for a few minutes. Add the herbs, garlic and chilli. Fry for a bit longer before adding the tomatoes and wine.

Place the shanks in the liquid. They should be covered, so you might need to add a glass or two of water. Bring to the boil before reducing the heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes before placing in the oven.
Cook the shanks for as long as you can (at least 2½ hours but preferably seven or eight). Take the pot out of the oven and gently turn the shanks every now and then. When the meat is falling off the bone, remove the shanks and set aside to cool.
When cool enough to handle, shred the meat. Add ladles of the sauce to a pan and reduce until it reaches the desired consistency. Add the meat and heat through.

To serve, spoon the sauce into bowls, top with some gnocchi pieces and garnish with chopped parsley.

Recipe courtesy of Andy Fenner of  Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants.

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