Lamb shanks were a revelation the first time I tried them. Believe it or not that was only 5 years or so ago.
In Syria we don't cook Lamb shanks the way God intended. Instead we take the meat off the bone cut it into cubes and use it to cook stews. The cut is called Mozat (موزات). I assume it is from the Arabic word Mozeh which means banana. I assume because the the shape of the muscle resembles a tiny banana. (The last three sentences are completely made up. Most likely it has nothing to do with Banana)
I never tasted Mozat until I cooked that lamb shank for the first time.
My mum, bless her, hates meat. She would have been a vegetarian without a doubt if vegetarians were invented at that time. She can't touch raw meat of any form. My dad does all the meat handling and prep at our house. My mum would just push the stuff into the pan with spoon. Once cooked it doesn't get any better. She would only eat red meat if it is in its purest form without any sinew or any trace of fat, preferably without meat flavour or texture!
I don't know if you have seen a boiled lamb shank. It has a gelatinous connective tissue that holds the muscle together. If my mum ever see this on her plate she wouldn't eat for a week. So needless to say we never ever had lamb shanks in our house.
Enough about that and back to the recipe. This is a simple dish of lamb, potato and onion. I add carrots for extra sweetness. Cooked nice and slow in a clay pot with salt, pepper and allspice. Melting in your mouth tender. It is by far my favourite lamb dish and a stable on my dinner party menu.
Here is my recipe for four:
Four lamb shanks
Chicken stock 150 mls
Salt and pepper to taste
Start by roughly chopping the onion. Peel carrots and potatoes and cut into one inch cubes. Then into the clay pot. Onions at the bottom, lamb shanks, carrots and potato. Pour the chicken stock season generously with freshly ground black pepper and rock salt. Generously sprinkle the allspice over the meat and potatoes. Cover and into a cold oven.
I start the oven on 200c. After twenty minutes I turn in down to 165c and cook for three and a half hours.
If you want to follow standard culinary procedure then brown the meat before adding to the pot. However I don't bother when I am cooking in a clay pot. The meat browns nicely as you can see in the picture.