Lamb shanks with chickpeas

Ingredients to serve 6

5 tablespoons olive oil
6 lamb shanks
2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 leeks, roughly chopped
3 celery sticks, roughly chopped
about half a bottle of white wine
1 teaspoon dried mint
a generous pinch of saffron
2 tablespoons tomato puree
about 250g chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight, or 2 x 400g tins of chickpeas (look for a brand that adds nothing but salt and water)
a bunch of parsley or coriander, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a fierce heat. Brown the lamb shanks in it and then put them to one side. Pour the fat and juices from the pan into a large casserole and use them to fry the onions, garlic, leeks and celery, adding a little more oil if you need to. When the vegetables have softened but not browned, add the wine, mint and saffron. As soon as it is bubbling, stir in the tomato puree. Add the lamb shanks and turn to coat them with the other ingredients. Add enough water for the shanks to be just about covered, but not swimming. Cover and cook over a low heat for about two hours.

Meanwhile, deal with the chickpeas, if you are using dried ones. Drain them of their soaking water, put them in a large pan of unsalted water and bring to the boil. Boil them rapidly for 10 minutes, then drain again. Now cover them with fresh water again and simmer until tender. The best way to get chickpeas right is to keep tasting the odd one. If the water evaporates before the chickpeas are tender, just add more boiling water from the kettle.

When the lamb has been cooking for about two hours, add the chickpeas and enough of their cooking liquid to cover. If they look as if they will swamp the stew, don't add them all. Continue cooking until the lamb is tender and the chickpeas are a little overcooked; make sure the stew does not dry out – add a little more liquid if necessary.

Serve in bowls with plenty of liquid, garnished with the parsley or coriander and accompanies by some good bread for mopping up the juices.

From 'The Eagle Cookbook: Recipes from the Original Gastropub' by David Eyre and The Eagle Chefs (Absolute Press £20). Picture by Lara Holmes

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