Cooking time: 3 hours
2 English lamb shanks (each weighing about 1 lb/450 g)
4 oz (110 g) dried cannellini beans, pre-soaked and drained
4 medium-sized, ripe tomatoes
1 large stick celery
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, peeled and cut into eighths through the root
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into 2 inch (5 cm) chunks
15 fl oz (425 ml) red wine
1 fresh bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary bruised in a mortar, then chopped, plus 4 sprigs, to garnish
salt and freshly milled black pepper
You will also need a lidded, flameproof casserole with a capacity of 4 pints (2.25 litres).
Begin by skinning the tomatoes. Place them in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water on to them. Leave them for exactly a minute, then remove them and slip off their skins (protecting your hands with a tea cloth if they are hot). Then chop them fairly roughly. Next, using a potato peeler, remove the worst of the stringy bits from the celery and cut it into 2 inch (5 cm) chunks. Now pre-heat the oven to gas mark 1, 275°F (140°C).
After that, you need to heat the oil in the casserole over a highish heat. Then, season the lamb shanks with salt and freshly milled black pepper and, when the oil is really hot, brown them on all sides, holding them at the bone end while protecting your hand again with the tea cloth, and turning them round in the hot oil.
When they're nicely browned, remove them to a plate and, keeping the heat high, add the celery, onion and carrots and brown them as well, turning and tossing them around for about 6 minutes. Now stir in the garlic, cook for one minute, then add the drained beans and give everything another good stir.
Next, add the tomatoes, wine, bay leaf, chopped rosemary and some seasoning. Then, finally, place the lamb shanks on top and when everything is beginning to simmer, cover with the lid and transfer the casserole to the oven to braise very slowly for 3 hours. Serve garnished with the sprigs of rosemary.