Chanfana de borrego, a slow cooked lamb stew

“Chanfana” is a succulent celebratory dish which comes from the Bairrada region in the province of “Beira Litoral” the coastal region of central Portugal. Goat meat is the classic choice,but lamb can also be used.The casserole is slow-cooked in a traditional large black clay pot in a wooden oven for at least 5 hours.I used a tagine. The meat is soaked in good quality red wine, preferably from the Bairrada region,onion, piri-piri, bay leaf, garlic cloves,bacon and some sort of fat (I used olive oil instead of lard).I have never been a great fan of goat meat so opted for lamb, which I thought was appropriate and traditional for Easter.The nature of this dish is that it is served for weddings and large family occasions. I did not see why its style could not be adapted for two people.I found a modern take on the Good Food Channel and adapted the recipe to my own taste.Miguel Almeida slow cooks lamb shanks to create melt in the mouth tender lamb in a rich unctuous red wine sauce.This cut has exactly the right amount of fat and bone and he has added carrots which bring a contrasting colour to the plate.As is common with a lot of Portuguese stews he sits the finished dish on two slices of toast which sop up the juices from the lamb.I made a rub for the lamb then marinated it overnight adding the wine just before cooking.

Lamb chanfana 
a modern take on a "celebratory" dish

2 lamb shanks

4 cloves garlic crushed
2 dessert spoons rosemary
2 dessert spoons thyme
2 dessert spoons oregano
Extra virgin olive oil( I used my own infused with piri piri)
Flor de sal / pepper
3 dessert spoons dijon mustard
3 shallots chopped
4 carrots quartered into sticks lengthwise
2 bay leaves
1 glass of white wine (or Red bairrada if you are going for the more traditional)

Season the lamb shanks with salt, pepper and crushed garlic.
Rub the shanks all over with the mustard.
Chop the herbs up very finely and with the addition of a little olive oil rub the fresh chopped herbs into the paste. Put the shanks in a tupperware container or pyrex dish covered with clingfilm and leave to marinade overnight. If you want a strong wine flavour pour the wine over the shanks at this point otherwise add the wine just before placing the meat to  roast in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 100C / 212F. Lay the chopped shallots, and the carrots on the base of  a casserole and pour over the olive oil. Place the lamb shanks on top, cover with the wine.
Place the casserole in the oven and let it slow cook for 5 hours. When it’s ready the meat will be
flavoursome,falling off the bone and the carrots will be very soft.
To serve, put the toast overlapping on two plates, top with meat and carrots and pour over the juices. 



  1. this looks mouth-wateringly good... I love a good lamb stew and have been looking for an interesting recipe... this looks like the one... and quite simple too!

  2. I'm with Dom on this, it sounds glorious. Although I suspect I will have to use lamb neck as I'd have to remortgage the house to buy lamb shanks!


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