There are so many reasons to be happy and grateful when Matthew and Frances come to visit, and one of my joys is that I get to cook anything I want and I know it will be eaten with gusto. They have no food quirks, allergies or limitations and because they both work out every day I don’t have to worry about them gaining weight.
We love lamb, in all of its forms, and lamb shanks are a particular delight. I make it many different ways, but when I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. Just the smell wafting from my kitchen was worth the effort and the actual taste was incomparable. It has a lot of ingredients, but it is not really difficult to make and requires no special skills. Since I do so much Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, I have most of the spices on hand already. If you want to wow your family or guests, this is a great dish to make. There is enough sauce to actually increase the lamb shanks to 6 or possibly even eight. The only challenge would be having a heavy pan with a lid that is large enough to accommodate them. If you keep Kosher or are lactose intolerant, you can omit the Yogurt Mint sauce, but it does add a wonderful flavor and texture.
Moroccan-Style Braised Lamb Shanks with Mint Yogurt adapted from D’Artagnan Recipes
Yield: 4 generous servings with additional sauce
4 Tablespoons EVOO
1 large onion, peeled, sliced in half and then in thin 1/2 moon slices
1 Tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon, peeled and minced fresh garlic
1 red chile, finely chopped or 1 teaspoon Harissa or Gochujang
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 large carrot, diced (I actually used julienned carrot, which I had bought and wanted to use up)
2 generous teaspoons ground cumin
2 generous teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon or more to taste of Aleppo pepper (or cracked black)
2 3-inch long cinnamon sticks
3 whole star anise
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 generous teaspoon oregano
4 Lamb shanks
1 24 0r 28 ounce can of peeled tomatoes, broken up
3 cups of chicken stock, preferably unsalted
20 high quality black or green olives WITH pits (I used canned green Mediterranean olives)
8 dried apricots, sliced
For the Mint Yogurt Sauce
6 ounces of plain Greek-style yogurt
1/2 cup of fresh mint leaves, torn
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons EVOO
Kosher Salt and Aleppo (or cracked black) pepper to taste
Drizzle of EVOO, preferably Meyer lemon infused
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a large heavy Dutch Oven that can fit the lamb shanks in one layer, place the EVOO, onion, ginger,garlic and chile over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until they are frgrant and the onion begins to soften.
- Add the celery, carrot, cumin, coriander, star anise, cinnamon, turmeric and oregano and cook for 3-4 more minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, olives and apricots and increase the heat to bring to a boil.
- Make a couple of slits, into the meat of the lamb shanks and add the thems to the sauce. Cover the pan and place in the oven. Cook for about 2 to 2.5 hours, turning once until the meat is practically falling off of the bone.
- Mix the ingredients for the yogurt mint sauce, topping with the drizzle of EVOO.
- To serve, cook up some rice or couscous and serve one shank per person with plenty of sauce. Top with a dollop of the yogurt mint sauce.
NOTE: I served this with Shmura matza that was drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with za’atar.