In the good old days when ABC were singing about poisoned arrows and Jimmy Saville was well respected (I never liked him) lamb shanks were a thing of revoltingness with the forshank and hind shank being a lower sheep’s leg of connective tissue and fattiness, needing hours of old fashioned stewing to render it down to an edible state – you could get a shank for less than a pound then, after all it’s only a ‘Tibia’.
Nobody really wanted them, people often cooked them up for their dogs, chefs made stock from them and the industry blasted off the meat for lamb moosh. They really were out of favour – – those poor sheep may well have gone round walking on their knees because no one would have noticed.
Then once upon a month in the 90’s when people learnt the meaning of a Wonder Wall, came the dawn of the shank – I recon one crazy celebrity chef like Gary Rhodes with all his spiky hair or that one who used to throw saucepans at his chefs and married a harem (alegidly), what’s his name, oh yer – Marco or maybe Ainsley with his Susie Salt and Peter pepper or even Jamie O when he was Naked – I recon one of them 90’s chefs had an innocent £1 gristly bit of lamb shank and cooked it all nice on telly.
That was it then – the rise of the bottom leg, the rise of the cheaper cuts – poor old Maureen from No 3 couldn’t afford to feed her dog any more, he went back on to Chum, Doris’s husband from No 8 had to endure minced beef & onions twice a week and butcher’s shops everywhere where inundated with shank orders – the prices soured.
Nearly twenty-five years on and people still can’t get enough of the wondrous things – slow cooked in ale, wine or stock, enriched with goodies with the meat falling seductively of the bone, they are just a winner, winner lamb shank dinner. For dinner party’s – guests delight at their presence, restaurants, cafes all have them – we love em, even though they are so last decade plus one.
But what’s happened to the price, after all sheeps have 4 of them – I’ll tell you what’s happened to the price its gone up 500% – try and get a shank for under £5, you might even pay up to £8 per lump. That’s a high price to pay for a family of 4.
My daughter the other day had seen them so often on ‘come dine with me’ she requested I do them immediately without delay at home, £26 later and 3 good hours in the oven in a bottle of red and we had a family meal. I could have bought 60 mars bars, 300 jam donuts, 1/6th of a terrace house in the 60’s or at least 25 DVD’s from the Poundshop. She was happy anyway!
I wonder what cheap cuts next – veal testicles, chicken brains, fish fingers – actually it seems to be pig cheeks, they are everywhere and as I speak they are £6-8 per kilo and weigh about 100g per little cheek, you need about 3 – 4 per portion making them cost around £2.50 per person. Of course in the past it was boiled up in the head and used in brawn or ‘head cheese’ for want of a better word! – in the past it was as cheap as cheeks, but soon it will be as expensive as steak. Get it now while it’s in the middle because knowing the British fads we’ll still be enjoying them in 2040 at £60 per kilo.