He should be thankful. I almost added “In Braise of Lamb”, but figured he might pass out from the shock of two truly horrendous puns in a single title. Let it be known that I can be kind and merciful when I want to.
With the tulips and crocuses now in full bloom, I’ve been slowly moving into a springier vibe in the kitchen and phasing out the braised and stewed stick-to-your-ribs foods that are my usual winter fare…. still, the Canadian weather is never predictable around this time of year, and we’ve had a few of those dreary, cold, wet days that call for a properly comforting bowl of something warm and stew-like.
This is my mid-spring compromise for those almost-winter days. Seasonally appropriate spring lamb shanks are simmered in a luscious, velvety sauce full of spicy-sweet North African flavours until they’re falling off the bone, scooped up onto fluffy couscous and then topped with a generous handful of mint and coriander to bring a breath of spring freshness and offset all that richness. Add a few bad puns of your own and it’s just what you need to warm up while you wait for the sun to return.
Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shanks
4 lamb shanks, ~3/4 lb each
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-sized red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp each paprika, cumin and coriander
1 tsp ginger
4 cups beef or lamb stock
2 cups water
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tbsp harissa paste
1 preserved lemon, cut into wide strips
1 cinnamon stick
20 pitted prunes
10 pitted dates
1/4 cup each fresh cilantro and mint, roughly chopped
In a large heavy pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, sear the lamb shanks in olive oil until browned on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is golden brown, about 7-10 minutes. Add paprika, cumin, coriander and ginger; continue cooking for about a minute, or until fragrant. Stir in stock, water, tomato paste, harissa, preserved lemon, cinnamon stick and saffron, as well as the browned lamb shanks. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low; simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
After half an hour, uncover the pot and turn over the lamb shanks. Continue simmering, uncovered, for 90 minutes or until lamb shanks are tender.
Remove the shanks from the dish; cover and set aside to keep warm. Add prunes and dates to the mixture in the pot and increase heat to high; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduced and thickened.
Serve shanks and sauce on a bed of plain couscous, topped with a generous scattering of chopped cilantro and mint.