Braised Lamb Shank is an excellent dish to add to your repertoire. It is a cut that needs to be slowly cooked for hours to break down the tough meat, turning it into a fork-tender supple shank that marries well with many different flavours.
In this recipe, adapted from my book Cooking Meat, the lamb shank is rubbed in a mix of warm spices before being browned and slowly bathed in stock with preserved lemons and black olives. It will brighten the corners of an otherwise dreary winter’s night.
Braised Lamb Shank with Moroccan Flavours
3 tsp harissa paste
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 tsp salt (divided)
4 lamb shanks, about 12 oz each
3 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp smoked or regular paprika
4 shallots, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rings
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 small carrots, quartered lengthwise, and cut in 2-inch lengths
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut in ½-inch wedges
2 celery stalks, cut in 2-inch lengths
½ bulb fennel, cut in ½-inch wedges
20 black olives, pitted or whole
12 dried apricots
2 preserved lemon, peel only
6 bay leaves (dried are fine)
5-6 cups Chicken Stock
- In a medium bowl, mix together the harissa, oil, and 1½ tsp of the salt to form a paste. Using your hands, rub the paste all over the shanks, cover, and refrigerate for 6 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1½ tsp salt, the pepper, cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, and paprika.
- Line the base of a Dutch oven with the shallots. Sprinkle the garlic over the top, and then place the lamb shanks on top of the shallots, crossing one on top of the other. Sprinkle half of the spice mix over the meat and shallots.
- Arrange the vegetables over the lamb. Sprinkle the vegetables with the rest of the spice mix.
- Scatter the olives, apricots, preserved lemon skin, and bay leaves around the vegetables. Pour 5 cups of the stock into the base of the Dutch oven (don’t pour it over the vegetables and meat).
- Cover the Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, bring to a simmer over medium heat, then transfer to the oven until the meat is tender, about 2 hours. After 2 hours, check the lamb. If the liquid has reduced to a sauce consistency, add another cup of stock and cook until the meat pulls away from the bone, about 1 hour.
- Remove the pot from the oven and allow it to cool for 20 minutes. Bring the dish to the table and remove the lid in front of your guests for a “wow” effect.