Lamb shank stew for a blustery November night

I've always been a bit scared of stews, I don't know why. But the other day I found some lamb shanks in the freezer and some haricot beans in the larder and decided to put them together, with the help of my NBF Nigel Slater.

He recommended using leeks with the beans, but I didn't have any of them, so I used some celery and carrots instead.

The exact recipe can be found in Volume 1 of NS's 'Tender' cookbook, but it goes something like this:

(For 2)
- Soak 150g haricot beans overnight, or for approx 6-hours, then change water and bring to boil, skim off the gross froth bit and then simmer for 40 mins. When they're done, leave them in the water they boiled in.
- Season lamb shanks all over and then brown in some oil in whatever casserole pot you're going to cook the whole lot in. Takes about 10 mins to brown lightly all over (but it's going to cook for 2 hours, so you don't have to be really neurotic about it. And anyway, I always tell myself, lamb won't kill you if it's a bit rare). Then put aside, on a plate.
- Chop up your carrots and celery - maybe two of each? - and a clove of garlic and add, with a thick slice of butter to the casserole. Then cook gently for 20 mins. Here, NS recommends putting a sheet of greaseproof paper underneath the casserole lid, but if you haven't got any (and I frequently haven't) it's probably ok just to put the lid on.
- Take the casserole off the heat and sprinkle a tablespoon of plain flour over the veg and stir it round. Then drain the beans and add them, then pour in about 150 ml stock (just made with a cube or whatever), give it a stir and then place in the lamb shanks.
- Cook at 160 for 2 hours.
NS says it's best re-heated and he's right, athough it's also great first time round. It goes really well with Haimisha cucumbers on the side, just to cut through a bit of the fattiness of the lamb and the delicious gackiness of the beans.

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