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Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Apricots

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Level: Easy

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Description

This braised lamb dish will bring you straight to Morocco, and you don’t even need a tagine to pull this off. Sweet dried apricots, preserved lemon and briny olives combined with just the right spices make these lamb shanks deliciously exciting.

Ingredients

  • 2 whole Lamb Shanks (about 1 ½ Lbs)
  • 1 teaspoon Cumin Seeds
  • ½ teaspoons Coriander Seeds
  • ¼ cups Vegetable Oil
  • 1 whole Small Cinnamon Stick
  • 3 whole Cloves
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Finely Grated Ginger
  • 2 whole Garlic, Minced
  • ½ whole Preserved Lemon, Rinsed (See Note)
  • 1 cup Canned Diced Tomatoes In Juices
  • 1 pinch Saffron
  • 3 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth, Or As Needed
  • ½ cups Dried Apricots
  • ¼ cups Whole Green Olives
  • 1-½ Tablespoon Light Brown Sugar, Or To Taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Cilantro, Chopped Plus More For Garnish

Preparation

Bring lamb shanks to room temperature for 30–60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a dry pan, toast cumin and coriander seeds over medium heat for about 2–3 minutes, or until fragrant. Grind in a coffee or spice grinder and set aside.

Heat a dutch oven over medium-high. Season lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Coat pan lightly with oil and add in lamb shanks. Brown lamb well on all sides, about 10 minutes total. Remove from the pan and set aside. Discard excess oil.

While shanks brown, prepare the preserved lemon. Using a knife, separate the pith from the pulp. Thinly slice the pith and set aside. Finely chop the pulp, discarding any seeds and tough membrane.

Add 2 tablespoons of fresh oil to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and add in the onion. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté 3–5 minutes or until translucent. Stir in ginger, garlic, ground spices, cinnamon stick and cloves. Sauté about 30 seconds. Stir in the preserved lemon pulp, tomatoes and saffron. Return lamb to the pan. Pour in enough chicken broth to go ¾ of the way up the shanks. Do not add extra salt at this point as the preserved lemons are quite salty. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover and transfer the pot to the center rack of the oven.

Braise for a total of 2–2 ½ hours or until meat is very tender. Check braising liquid every 30–60 minutes, adding water as needed, to maintain the level ¾ of the way up the lamb. When shanks are cooked, return the pot to the stovetop, remove lamb and cover to keep warm. Discard cinnamon stick and cloves. Add apricots, olives, lemon peel and cilantro to the braising liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 7–10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed. If the sauce is a bit too sour from the lemon, add sugar, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the flavor is balanced. To finish the sauce, stir in butter until incorporated. Serve lamb shanks with sauce over couscous, and garnish with cilantro.

Note: Preserved lemons can be found in specialty stores or online. I bought mine on Amazon.

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