Marvellous-Mother-In-Law decided to make Moroccan-style lamb shank tagine for our Sunday lunch club a week or so ago. The weather was getting rather autumnal so it seemed a good plan. Something hearty to combat the grey drizzle. On the day it was broiling hot weather (good job we’re British and used to such mercurial weather!) so we enjoyed the lamb shanks in the garden sitting under an umbrella to protect us from the sun. Teamed with a very pale rose blush wine and accompanied by a refreshing salad it worked beautifully despite the heat. Basically this recipe is delicious whatever the weather!
Moroccan-style Lamb Shank TagineDifficulty: Easy
The list of ingredients looks a bit daunting but hopefully many are already in your storecupboard. Very easy to make and one to make ahead if you so wish – in fact it tastes even better made up to 3 days in advance. In that case, make to the end of step 6 then cool, cover and chill or freeze (defrost before reheating). Reheat in the oven at 200 degrees C/180 degrees fan/gas 6 for 20 – 30 mins until piping hot throughout.
A pinch of saffron strands
1tbsp boiling water
1-2tbsp plain flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 small lamb shanks (each around 350g/12oz)
2-3 glugs of vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1tsp each ground ginger and cinnamon
2tsp each ground cumin and coriander
2tsp rose harissa paste
2 small preserved lemons (or 1 large), drained, pips removed and the rest finely chopped
2tsp caster sugar
600ml (1pt) fresh lamb or chicken stock (or use 2 stock cubes)
A handful of semi-dried apricots or prunes, or a mixture of both
A handful of walnut halves
250g (9oz) couscous
A good handful of fresh coriander, leaves and thin stems chopped
2tbsp fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/ gas 4.
- Put the saffron in a ramekin with the boiling water. Set aside to infuse. In a bowl, season the flour, then add the lamb and toss to coat.
- Heat a glug of oil in a deep, cast iron, lidded casserole dish into which the shanks will fit snugly. Brown them all over on a high heat in two batches, then set aside on a plate. If some of the flour has burnt, wipe out the casserole.
- Heat another glug of oil, add the onion and cook gently for a few minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and ground spices and cook for a few minutes until fragrant.
- Add the harissa, preserved lemons, sugar, saffron water and strands, stock and lamb. Bring to the boil, season, cover and place in the oven for 1½ hours, turning the shanks over halfway through.
- Add the apricots and/or prunes and walnuts and return to the oven for 30 minutes. The lamb will almost be falling off the bone by this stage.
- Skim off the fat with a spoon. Better still, cool and chill then take the fat off when it has set after a night in the fridge.
- Place the couscous into a bowl with 1tsp of salt, some pepper and 1tbsp veg oil. Add 375ml boiling water and stir. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for 10 minutes. Fluff up with a fork.
- Serve the shanks from the casserole scattering with the coriander and pomegranate seeds if using and serve with the couscous.
- Swap 1kg diced lamb for the shanks if you prefer
For a less spicy way to cook lamb shanks, see Grace’s recipe