Slow-Roasted Lamb Shanks and…’Lazarus, Come Forth’

Keeping children alive is not that easy.  Especially if they are born with a huge amount of belief that they are indestructible and totally invincible.  And my two boys were born with that gene and have made sure my greatest achievement has been keeping them alive.

Slow-Roasted Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes and Peppers

When Alfie was three we were out doing that thing you have to do, food shopping.

After we left the check-out we had to ride on the travelator so we could return to the underground car park.  The wheels of my over-stacked trolley locked onto the travelator and I was standing behind it cruising my way back down to my car.  That was when Alfie decided to squeeze past along the side of my trolley, push past everyone else, run to the bottom then out the sliding doors and into the car park.

And I couldn’t chase after him because my trolley was locked and I couldn’t leave it or everyone behind me would have an incredible stack at the bottom, nor would I have been able to push past the people and trolleys in front of me.

When I did emerge into the car park Alfie was no where to be seen.

That’s because he was having the time of his life playing a fun game of ‘hiding from mum’.  And then I saw him.  Darting and weaving in and out of the parked cars.  And I thought that was pretty dangerous.  So I called to him and asked him to come to me.

But then I saw a Subaru 4WD racing along between me and Alfie so I told Alfie to stay where he was.  But he was still running towards me so I was yelling louder and louder with my hands out in front of me indicating for him to stop but he was having so much fun being naughty and just kept running towards me.  The woman driving the Subaru was accelerating and going and incredible speed that I am sure was illegal and she wasn’t even going to slow down as she approached the pedestrian crossing that ran between the parked cars and the entrance to the supermarket.

By now I was not the only one who could see what was about to happen as other people with their trolleys joined me in yelling at Alfie to stay right where he was.

But Alfie ran on to the pedestrian crossing with no clue that there was a car quickly approaching and after he had popped out from the parked cars and taken a few steps onto the crossing he was hit by the speeding car and went flying through the air.  He landed, splat on the concrete and the driver in the Subaru screeched to a halt.  And women were screaming and everyone was running towards where Alfie had landed, on the concrete completely still.

A man reached Alfie first and I was closely following and he yelled out to me, ‘Don’t touch him, his legs are broken’ and I felt sick in my stomach because Archie had broken both his legs when he was three (but that’s another story!) and I wasn’t sure what other damage might have been done.

But then like Lazarus walking out of the tomb, Alfie jumped up, landed on his feet and said, ‘I’m all right, I’m all right,’ and there wasn’t a mark on him.  By some stroke of good fortune probably from an over-worked guardian angel, Alfie, when hit by the car, had been thrown back from the car rather than dragged underneath it.

And all the bystanders were standing around completely stunned that the little boy they had seen fly through the air was upright and walking and completely unscathed.

But I aged a bit.

Have you struggled to keep your children alive?

Today is Australia Day and it is a tradition to put some lamb on the barbecue.  But this has to be ‘the summer that never was’ due to the cool temperatures and constant rain.  The weather last night was at its absolute worst with flooding in many parts of the city so our barbecue plans were  thrown out the window and instead I cooked wintery comfort food that was absolutely delicious and not totally unpatriotic because we still cooked lamb.

Slow-Roasted Lamb Shanks with Peppers and Tomato

Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes and Peppers

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Lamb shanks can be expensive (I’ve no idea why because this used to be a cheap cut of meat) but I managed to find some in the supermarket that were organic and very reasonable.  All the remaining ingredients were in my fridge or pantry.

  • 1 tbspn olive oil
  • 4 French trimmed lamb shanks
  • 2 red onions, sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, sliced
  • 1 yellow capsicum, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 250mls dry white wine
  • 500mls chicken stock
  • 400gm can of tinned tomatoes
  • 4 tbspns tomato pate (or substitute with tomato pesto)
  • 2 tbspns each of freshly chopped basil, thyme and parsley

Pre-heat oven to 180C/375F.

Heat a large oven proof dish over medium heat and pour in the olive oil.  Add the lamb shanks and brown on all sides then remove.  Turn down the heat and add the onions, capsicum and garlic and stir until softened – about five minutes.  Pour in wine, stock, tomatoes and tomato pate.  Bring to the boil then return lamb shanks to the pan.  Cover pan with a lid then cook for 2 and a half hours.  Remove lid and cook for a further hour.  Stir in herbs and serve with mashed potato.





  1. What a story! And so well written. You should write screenplays for action films! I cannot even imagine what you felt (have no children).
    The lamb shank looks fantastic.

  2. Oh my god. I would have died right then and there. I think it’s a boy thing. Girls aren’t quite so reckless with their lives.

  3. All my three have done exciting stuff: arrived home having bitten through their tongue (still not sure how), running onto a street and falling over in front of a car, pushing a grapefruit knife into a power point, making and taking a cocktail from things in the medicine cupboard…all still alive. I’ve aged a bit.

  4. GOOD GOD. I hope you gave it good to that idiot driver! Definitely deserves a punch in the face!
    Anyway, your lamb shanks look excellent 🙂 Happy Australia Day!

  5. Oh, my goodness! I am shocked, as I kept hurtling forward in reading, I thought he would escape being struck. My heart is still racing.. I can only imagine what you must have gone through. I have never experienced anything close to this, thank goodness. I am so thankful your son (and you) have a guardian angel. Btw, I think I would have strangled that driver for speeding so negligently through a public parking lot!!!
    And yes, as always, this roast looks sublime and is helping to calm me down:) xo Smidge

  6. Remind me again what capsicums are…bell peppers? yes? I don’t believe I have ever had lamb before. does it taste like another kind of meat? Pork or beef perhaps? Maybe more like chicken or turkey? Your pics are gorgeous!

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Yes, bell peppers. I should remember to always write that in brackets beside the word ‘capsicum’. And lamb has it’s own unique flavour and it’s not a white meat so it doesn’t taste like chicken or turkey or pork. Probably it’s most similar to beef.

  7. I don’t even have children and that story made me feel sick. You poor thing!! Happy Australia Day though.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Thanks Claire. And I just tried to post a comment congratulating your grandmother on her 94th birthday but it wouldn’t let me. Kept telling me I needed to type in the password which I did a zillion times. Think you have an issue there!

  8. Those lamb shanks look delicious:) I am not a parent, but I have nephews and if I could have bubble wrapped them some days I would have – ha! My one nephew was the ring bearer in my wedding and he busted his head open a few days before. My brother called in a panic about what his hair would look in the pictures. I stated I could care less about that and care more about him and being safe and healthy. Have a Great Day – Happy Celebrations!!!

  9. Alfie was a lucky little boy cause I would have been tempted to ‘murder’ him after that scare. I don’t know how you managed to survive to see them grown. 🙂

    I like lamb though I don’t have it nearly enough for living in an area where lamb is grown (south-western Ontario) and the price is surprisingly usually higher on our fresh Ontario lamb than the imported frozen New Zeland lamb. I usually get a small leg, bone it out and reroll it with a walnut/parsley pesto inside. Very rarely I’ve had chops.

  10. You absolutely have more action in your life than anyone should have. Wow. Thank goodness he wasn’t hurt.

    I’ve never cooked lamb, though I do enjoy eating it. Maybe now’s the time to try. Yours looks so delicious.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I’ve heard lamb is rarely seen in butcher shops in the USA and therefore it’s not something Americans would normally cook or eat. And I’ve heard it’s more expensive too. So if you’re going to cook lamb this is a great recipe to start with because it really just cooks itself. And with the long cooking process the meat just falls off the bone and is very tender. If you can’t find lamb shanks you could always substitute with veal shanks and osso bucco kind of cuts – that will give a very similar result, just slightly different flavour.

  11. omg….a horrible fear of mine, kids and cars. I think I aged right along with you as I read this!! I’ve been thinking about making lamb shanks recently while we have a bit of cool weather here. This will be perfect; love how the meat is just falling off the bone!!

  12. I know how you feel, I’ve had to jump fully clothed into a swimming pool, call the fire brigade for trapped heads, rescue a squished nose in the automatic car window(don’t ask!) smashed teeth….. It takes a brave woman to be a mother.
    Those little lamb ribs were really cheap to start too until they got popular, now they are more expensive than a lot of chops but with a lot less meat. Shanks used to be sold as dog bones! There is no way your lovely meal could be mistaken for dog food, in fact the kids should feel lucky if I choose to share it with them after all they’ve put me through!

  13. What a story! It makes me wonder how any of us ever raise our kids to adulthood. I think every parent must spend half a lifetime with his or her heart in her throat…

    Happy Australia Day!

  14. What a stroke of luck! And I think many kids have that idea that they’re indestructible-except me, I was scared of breaking something! 😛

  15. ….and I thought my boys were a handful.

  16. OMG… your children have the worst luck… but what sort of imbecile plays speed-racer in a car-park or around pedestrian crossings. It’s the one thing I get so worried about when driving home. Even when driving at a speed correct for the situation. There’s a road with a pedestrian crossing every 30 or 40 metres or so… maybe 8 crossings in total and so many cars parked blocking line of sight too (they probably shouldn’t be parked there but they don’t care – it’s France after all). It would be so easy for some small toddler to bound across the road from behind a car. I already almost hit a little old lady one time who was striding out confidently from right behind a bus!

    Happy Australia Day! My colleague brought in vegemite sandwiches, lamingtons and ANZAC biscuits to celebrate (She’s from Oz).

    Lovely looking dish – lamb costs a fortune here though alas… I wonder, would it work with pork too?

    • hotlyspiced says:

      Hi Charles, yes, it’s unbelievable that people race through car parks right near the entry to the shops and across a pedestrian crossing. That’s three reasons you’d think you’d slow down and you should only need one. I’ve heard in France the French do as they please! Isn’t that lovely that an Ozzie girl brought in all those goodies! Re the lamb…I would try it with osso bucco bones or veal shanks. The meat needs to be on the bone and it needs to be that gelantinous (sp?) type of meat. Do try this recipe with osso bucco or similar and let me know how it works.

  17. OMG, your writing is so compelling, Charlie, I couldn’t stop. Like a train wreck I had to see what was going to happen, even though I really didn’t want to. I cry with commercials, and they are stupid, but this is a real story. I am so glad everything worked out in the end, and that I finished the story. Alfie certainly has some guardian angel overlooking him.
    The lamb looks amazing. Too bad you’re having such a bad summer, our winter is very mild this year, so I’m quite happy!

  18. Hi Charlie
    Great to meet you yesterday! LOve love your blog, however I spent many hours last night going through it and then following various links, so not the early night I thought I’d get.
    Of course I had to laugh about your kids escapades, and also get myself worried about the teenage years…so far so good however Miss 12 will be the one to push my buttons. Luckily I have escaped the Near Death experiences however whenever my !4 year old goes on school ski trips without me, we always end up in hospital and/or in a cast and driving down to rescue him. I hope thats as bad as it gets!
    Lamb Shanks in mid summer, its ridiculous that we’ve needed such comfort food but I agree its the weather that dictates…
    Hope we catch up again sometime,


    • hotlyspiced says:

      Great to meet you too. Oh, the horror of the school ski trip – recipe for disaster right there! Especially if it’s a boy that’s going! Sorry to have kept you up all night!!!

  19. Oh I had one like that too, my fourth son, and I KNOW you can imagine. That boy broke his arm so often he took himself to the hospital one time. he was 12 and he knew the drill and they all knew him! i called him the bounce back body! he never stopped running. But we survived so far he is 28 and still running! c

  20. I have yet to cook with lamb, but these shanks look so tender and juicy!

  21. So glad your Alfie recovered to run another day. And you just continue to amaze! Your lamb shanks look so tasty! After that story, I think we all need some comfort. Depending upon how busy my day is, I’ve placed them in the slow cooker in the morning and, that evening, enjoyed a hearty, no fuss meal.

  22. I have twin brothers who seem to be cut from the same cloth as your boys! My poor mother with double the amount of trouble at one time! They even tried hanging each other out of the upstairs bathroom window once!
    Delicious recipe for shanks! Think I might do this with a leg I have in the freezer.
    🙂 Mandy

  23. This looks DELICIOUS!! And I am SO GLAD that Alfie was fine. Uff da! I cannot imagine how you must have been feeling, watching that happen. HORRIBLE! Between this and his other accidents, I’m so glad that he’s alive and well!

  24. Your post took me back to May 12, 2007, when my 12-year-old son was struck by a hit-and-run driver while crossing the street to his school bus stop. As in Alfie’s case, the guardian angels were working over-time that morning. My son suffered bumps and bruises, a broken bone in his left hand and a fractured rib. But it could have been so much worse.

    I cannot imagine, like you, witnessing something like this. The fear that raced through my heart that morning upon hearing emergency sirens and instinctively knowing my son had been hit, is something that haunts me to this day.

    The driver of the car that struck my boy has never been found despite publicity and the offer of a $1,000 reward. I cannot fathom anyone so flippant as to hit a child with a car and simply drive away.

    I am so thankful your son is OK. I worry about how this incident may affect his future health as sometimes physical injuries manifest themselves years later.

    • hotlyspiced says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your son’s accident. That is so wonderful that he wasn’t more seriously hurt. What sort of a person hits a child and keeps driving! That is probably the most hurtful part of this story. Unbelievable, however, so happy to hear your son has made a full recovery.

  25. I can’t tell you, Charlie. I want to, but it’s too hard to dredge up the memories again. But you have my complete and total empathy. Thank God he’s not going around the country in the back of a ute with his band for a year, you’d have never slept. 🙂

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