My father and I share similar tastes when it comes to food, and I’m pretty sure I’ve inherited a cooking gene from his side of the family, as well. Given this, I enjoy cooking for him whenever I get the opportunity, so this was the elegant “presentation” dish that I made for his most recent birthday.
Thankfully the cooking went well (it’s always hard to tell how something will turn out to begin with, let alone in a different kitchen one is not used to), and it was a hit!
3 tbsp EVOO
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet or smoked paprika (I prefer sweet)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 lamb shanks
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Generous pinch saffron threads
1 (14 oz) can or box of chopped or crushed tomatoeS
2 cups chicken stock (or water, but chicken stock adds nice flavor)
1 tsp honey
3/4 cup halved dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro for garnish
1. Mix 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 2 tsp of salt, the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne in a large bowl. Add the lamb shanks and use your hands to massage the seasonings into the shanks. Put the shanks in a large, sturdy resealable bag and close it, pressing out most of the air. Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.
2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb shanks in a single layer (if they don’t all fit, cook them in batches, adding additional oil, if necessary) so they are well browned on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 325º F.
4. Remove the shanks from the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions, garlic, and bay leaf; season with salt. Cook, stirring up any darkened bits (adding a bit of water if they really don’t pick up) until the onions are soft and transluscent. Stir in the saffron and let cook for another minute to release the fragrance of the saffron. Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the stock, honey, and lamb shanks and bring to a boil.
5. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to cook for 2 hours, turning the shanks and adding half of the dried apricots and raisins midway through. After 2 hours, remove the lid and add the remaining apricots and raisins. Continue to cook, turning the shanks midway through this final cooking, until the sauce is thickened or about 30 minutes.
6. Remove from the oven and skim any fat off the surface. Serve each shank in a bowl over the couscous. Sprinkle with parsley.
From My Paris Kitchen, by David Lebovitz.