If you’re on the lookout for authentic South African food, you’ve got to add lamb shanks to your list. Our South African beer-braised lamb shanks and mieliepap recipe is the perfect comfort food for gloomy winter days, but it’s a crowd-pleaser any day of the week in any other season too.
Getting to a bit of history
People eat mieliepap worldwide, although there are various names for it, and culture plays a role in the way people make it. South Africans make mieliepap (known as grits in Texas) from mielie meal (or maize meal), a relatively coarse flour. Maize meal comes from mielies, brought initially into Africa by the Portuguese. Maize meal was the staple food eaten by the Voortrekkers (Dutch-speaking inhabitants who made their way to South Africa.) It quickly became a staple in South Africa because of its ability to be stored without refrigeration.
It is cheap and plenteous in all shops and markets. Depending on the ratio of boiling water that you add, you can make porridge or the firmer pap. Pap goes excellent with meat, and gravy dishes, and vegetable relishes. In our recipe for mieliepap today, we’ll add milk to our maize meal to get a creamier dish. You can also use Italian polenta as a substitute for mieliepap.
Our South African take on lamb shank stew in delicious spices and golden ale is simply delectable. It’s best served with a traditional and creamy maize meal side. If you haven’t made your own lamb shanks before, now is a great time to try. To enjoy the best lamb shanks, which have that melt-in-the-mouth texture with the creamy mieliepap, you need to brown your shanks well all over and cook it long and slow in plenty of liquid. A slow cook is the best way to get your meat falling off the bone. In addition, the gelatinous sinews will create a rich, thick sauce when coupled with the mushrooms. While a heavy-based casserole pot for your shanks is ideal, a slow cooker also works wonders.
South African lamb shank recipe
To get started on a superb slow-cooked lamb shank and creamy mieliepap, gather the following ingredients.
What you need:
- 1/4 cup (60ml) sunflower oil
- Four lamb shanks (French-trim you lamb shanks to make them look more pleasing)
- One chopped carrot
- One chopped onion
- One chopped celery stalk
- Three chopped garlic cloves
- One tbs chopped thyme
- One tbs chopped rosemary
- Two bay leaves
- One tbs plain flour
- One and a third cups (330ml) golden ale
- One cup (250ml) Massel beef stock
- Two cups maize meal
- 1/2 cup (125ml) milk
- 100g of chopped unsalted butter
- 250g Swiss brown mushrooms (cut in half)
- Flat-leaf parsley leaves (use right at the end to garnish the dish)
What to do:
Follow these simple instructions:
- Start by preheating the oven to 140 degrees Celsius. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a roasting pan over medium heat and season the lamb. Brown the lamb all over; this should take about 8-10 minutes. Then remove them from the pan and set them aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in the pot. Over a gentle heat, fry the onion, celery, and garlic until they are soft and begin to change colour; this should take about 3-4 minutes. Then add the garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves and cook for two minutes or until fragrant.
- Add the flour and cook for a minute before adding in your ale. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Next, add the stock and bring to a simmer.
- Now place the lamb shanks back in the pot and cover with baking paper and foil before putting it in the oven for the next two hours.
- While the shanks are getting tender in the oven, it’s time to work on the mieliepap recipe. First, bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Then slowly pour the maize meal in a steady stream. Next, reduce the heat to low and cook. Stir constantly for a minute or until the mieliepap is nice and smooth. You’ll want to cover it and allow it to cook for the next half hour (add some water if it’s getting dry.) Then stir in the milk along with 75g butter. Finally, season and remove mieliepap from the heat.
- Next, you must start the mushroom sauce. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and 25g butter into a frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 3-4 minutes before removing them from the heat.
- Now, getting back to the lamb, take out the shanks and leave them to rest on a plate. Cover in foil to keep them warm while you strain the liquid into a clean saucepan over medium heat. Allow the liquid to cook for 4-5 minutes until it has reduced to half. You then want to remove it from the heat and stir in the mushrooms.
- Finally, you are ready to serve the lamb shanks and mieliepap.
How to serve it up
Dish out a portion of creamy mieliepap into a deep plate and place a tender lamb shank on top. Pour the rich mushroom sauce over and around your mieliepap and garnish with the parsley. Do the same for the remaining lamb shanks. Serve to your guests and enjoy!
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