Braised Lamb Shanks
Few other braised meats can achieve the richness and depth of braised lamb shanks. This recipe seasons the braising liquid with spices associated with Moroccan cooking. Try to find the ras-el-hanout, a North African spice blend that is like curry. It adds an extra depth of flavour, but the recipe is delicious without it. If you can’t find it, you can substitute curry powder.
Like most braised meats, the shanks are best cooked one to three days before serving. If you serve them on the same day, be sure to spoon off the rendered fat. I like to accompany the lamb and tomato-based sauce with curried couscous and sautéed red peppers, but basmati rice or boiled potatoes would work well, too.
- 4 lamb shanks
- kosher salt
- all-purpose flour
- canola oil, for sauteing
- 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
- 5 cloves garlic, smashed with the flat side of the knife
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons ras-el-hanout, or curry powder
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 preserved lemon, scraped of pulp and pith, julienned or chopped (optional)
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley or cilantro
Season the lamb shanks liberally with salt and set aside long enough for the salt to dissolve, at least 15 minutes or as many as 2 days.
Put enough flour for dredging the shanks into a plastic bag. Add the shanks and coat with the flour. (Or simply sprinkle them with flour on a cutting board).
In a Dutch oven or other heavy ovenproof pot, add enough oil to reach 1/4-inch up the sides and heat over high heat. When the oil is hot but not yet smoking, shake any residual flour off the lamb shanks and sear them until they have a nice crust. (Be patient: this step takes time and should not be rushed). Remove to paper towels to drain.
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Wipe out the pot and add a thin film of oil (skip this if you have a nice looking fond). Place over medium high heat and sauté the onion and garlic until the onion develops some color, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin, coriander, cayenne, ras-el-hanout (or curry), cinnamon, and half of the lemon, and stir to cook the spices and coat the onion, about 1 minute.
Nestle the shanks in the pan, add the tomatoes with their liquid, and bring to a simmer. Cut out a round of parchment/baking paper that will fit your pot (measure the circle by placing the tip of a folded triangle at the center of the pot and cutting it off at the edge of the pot). Press this paper lid onto the shanks or cover the pot with a lid, placing the lid slightly ajar. Set the pot in the oven.
Cook the shanks until they are fork tender, about 3 hours.
If you have time, remove the pot from the oven and let the shanks cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Remove the congealed fat on the surface and discard. Reheat the shanks over medium-low heat or in a 300°F oven, just until heated through.
Otherwise, just skim off the rendered fat from the top.
Soak the remaining preserved lemon in water for 5 to 10 minutes (discard the water afterwards).
Serve the lamb with the sauce and garnish with the lemon and the parsley, if desired.
Serve with Moroccan Couscous.
Source: Rulhman’s Twenty.