Recipe: Moroccan Lamb Shanks

~ This is Day 151 ~

Since when did NYT started hiding/charging for their recipes? I saw this via the daily newsletter a few weeks back and when I wanted to go back to it, I couldn’t see it anymore. So I’m writing this recipe from memory and from my adaptation of doing this during my Zoom cooking demo last weekend.

I was testing out how a Zoom cooking class would work so I tried this out with four of my relatives on Zoom.

Ras el hanout is a spice mix found in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. There is no definitive composition of spices that makes up ras el hanout so if your store is out of ras el hanout, you can make it yourself:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves

Serves 4.

  • 4 TBS grapeseed oil
  • 4 lamb shanks, averaging 1 lb each, trimmed of excess fat and sinew
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tsp ras el hanout 
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Generous pinch saffron threads
  • 3 quarts vegetable stock*, more if needed
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • 150 g raisins or currants
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 cup parsley leaves, packed
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Sea salt, as needed

*I always try to make my own stocks if possible because stocks shouldn’t contain salt in them. Every store-bought stock contains salt or low-sodium levels and it’s better to add your own salt in your cooking process. Click on above link for my recipe to making your own vegetable stock.

You should do this the night before: generously marinate trimmed lamb shanks in kosher salt overnight. The salt will help flavor the meat and will keep the meat retain moisture.

Blanch lamb shanks in cold water and bring to a boil. Drain and remove from water. Blanching helps remove excess salt and blood. Rinse under cold water if needed, then pat dry on paper towels. 

Heat grapeseed oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches if needed, sear the lamb shanks until browned on each side (there are 4 sides!). Make sure the oil is very hot before searing, you need to hear the sizzle.

Transfer the lamb shanks to a dish and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add more oil if needed. Sweat the onion, garlic, ras el hanout, and saffron. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Once aromatic, return the shanks to the pan with the cinnamon stick. Add the stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Taste and adjust for seasoning. The meat of the shanks should be mostly covered, but not fully submerged in the stock. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is fully cooked and tender, about 2-2½ hours, depending on the size of your shanks. If it looks like there isn’t enough liquid in the pot or if it’s drying out during the cooking process, add some more stock.

Preheat oven to 400°F and roast blanched almonds for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden. When nuts are cool enough to handle, use a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground or chop by hand. Sift through to remove the finer pieces. Set aside until ready to serve.

Pick, wash, spin parsley leaves then chop and set aside.

Once the lamb shanks are fully cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside. Add the raisins and honey to the sauce and gently stir to combine. Cook, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced to a syrup-like consistency. Taste and adjust for salt-content. There might be impurities coming up as you reduce, so skim those off.

When the sauce is ready, return the lamb shanks to the pan to warm them through and coat them with the sauce. Add in chopped parsley. Garnish with almonds and serve immediately with fluffy couscous.

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