Spiced lamb shank and haloumi pie

Spiced lamb shank and haloumi pie.
Spiced lamb shank and haloumi pie. Photo: Marina Oliphant

These are really elegant and flavourful little pies: sticky, rich and layered with spice.

Ingredients

4 lamb shanks

2 tbsp cumin seeds, roughly ground

salt flakes

extra virgin olive oil

2 carrots

1 bulb garlic, cut in half crossways

500ml chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

6 allspice berries

3 tbsp honey

150g butter

3 leeks, trimmed and washed, sliced into 1cm rounds

6 cloves garlic, sliced

2 pinches saffron

250g haloumi cheese, finely diced

1 large bunch coriander, picked and

chopped

1 packet filo pastry

12 vine leaves, rinsed and dried (available in jars from Greek or Mediterranean delis)

1 cup thick, plain unsweetened yoghurt

2 tsp tahini

1 handful pomegranate seeds, to serve

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Rub the shanks with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the cumin, salt and oil. Place on a roasting tray. Add the whole carrots and garlic bulb. Roast until golden, about 30 minutes.

3. Transfer to a pot with the chicken stock a litre of water (or to cover), the bay leaves, the cinnamon stick, the allspice and two tablespoons of the honey. Simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until meat is tender and coming off the bone.

4. Remove the shanks, allow to cool a little, then take the meat from the bone. Allow the meat to cool, then cut in 2-3cm dice.

5. Strain the liquid and return it to the stove; reduce by half.

6. In a clean saucepan, add 30 grams of the butter, the leeks, the sliced garlic cloves, the saffron and the remaining half tablespoon of cumin. Sweat gently over medium heat until soft, then add the reduced liquid and remaining tablespoon of honey, or to taste. Stir and season.

7. Reduce until sticky, then add back the shank meat and correct the seasoning. The mixture should be thick (but moist).

8. Transfer to a large bowl and add the diced haloumi and chopped coriander. Start to assemble your pies straightaway, as the mixture needs to be warm.

9. Melt remaining butter. Grease an 8cm dish or ramekin with butter. Butter a sheet of filo, then cut into four. Layer the pieces on top of each other (lying two sheets vertical and the other two horizontal to ensure even coverage when you fold them in) and carefully push into the dish.

10. Spoon two heaped tablespoons of the warm mixture into the filo-lined dish, then fold in the overhanging pastry to cover the mix, butter the top and turn the pie out on to a square of baking paper, folded side down. Repeat. Keep the parcels separate, as the filo is delicate. Cover each with a single vine leaf and leave in the fridge to chill and firm up - half an hour or so.

11. Lift on to a baking tray and bake at 200C for 12 minutes.

12. Mix the yoghurt and tahini together, and dollop on to the warm pies. Scatter over the pomegranate seeds and serve.