Swaggie's Lamb Shanks

A swaggie (swagman) is someone who carries a swag (all his worldly possessions) on his back and roams around the country on foot, living off his earnings, doing odd jobs here and there, and from gifts of money and food.

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This inexpensive cut of lamb is one a swaggie might be given and is a real treat when cooked this way and served sitting around a campfire under the stars in the Australian bush. It is more likely, though, that a swaggie would use beer rather than wine. This tastes better when cooked in a camp oven (a heavy cast iron pot with a lid) over an open fire and then finished, clamped in a grill (broil) rack, over the coals until the outsides are crisp and golden. You will need to begin making this dish two days ahead of serving.


  • 6 lamb shanks
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 3 fresh parsley sprigs
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 head garlic, cut in half across the cloves
  • 1 (2 inch long) piece ginger root, peeled and sliced
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 bottle red wine


  1. Arrange the shanks in a large, shallow baking dish. Scatter the vegetables, herbs, garlic, ginger root and peppercorns over the top. Pour in the oil and the wine. Turn the shanks over in the marinade to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Transfer the shanks to a cast iron Dutch oven with a lid and pour the marinade evenly over the top. Cover and bake in the center of the oven until fork tender, about 2 hours. During cooking, turn the shanks over from time to time.
  4. Remove from the oven and let cool, then refrigerate overnight in the marinade.
  5. Drain the shanks over a pot, catching the marinade. Place the marinade over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to a good coating consistency. Arrange the shanks on a griller (broiler) tray and slip under the broiler. Broil until glazed and crisp, about 5 minutes, then turn and grill until glazed and crisp on the second side and heated through, 2 to 3 minutes longer.
  6. Serve the shanks at once with the reduced sauce spooned around them.

Servings: 6