Lamb is very traditional for Easter and this is a nice alternative to a leg of lamb which can be really pricey if you are trying to feed a big gang. This dish is a great crowd pleaser and as it just cooks away in the oven is great for entertaining. Made with Lamb shanks which I think are my favourite cut of meat, and better yet, great value especially if you can get the rear shanks as they feed at least 2 per shank. They take on flavour really well and stand up to Indian and African flavours as well as the traditional frenchstyle cooking approaches. This recipe uses the Moroccan spice Ras el Hanout and is delicious, a tomato based sauce with chicken stock- it thickens up beautifully, a lovely shiny flavourful sauce. Chickpeas cooked in the dish means you don’t need much else, Couscous can be nice if you are a fan of that grain although I’ve started to eat Quinoa in its place lately. The result was lamb falling apart infused with lovely sweet smokey spicy flavours from the spice blend and just a little kick of heat. I had a large party to serve so I did a herb crust rack too and served a little rack and some of the Moroccan lamb for everyone and it was devoured.
This would serve 6-8 easily if you have rear shanks.
4 Lamb Shanks
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp ras el hanout
2 tbsp gluten free flour mixed with 1 tsp ras el hanout
2 big onions sliced thinly
1 can chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
2 garlic cloves peeled chopped and crushed
1 litre chicken stock
2 (400gr) cans chickpeas
harrissa to serve
Preheat the oven to 170C°. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and dip in the spiced flour to lightly coat.
In a large casserole dish with a lid, heat the oil and add the Lamb Shanks and fry until browned on all sides. Do in 2 batches if your pan is small and keep the heat moderately high to ensure they caramelise and develop lovely flavour. Transfer the lamb shanks to a plate and add the onion and garlic to the pan and fry gently for 5 minutes until lightly golden.
Keeping the heat at moderate add in the spice blend along with the tomato paste and cook until aromatic, 2 minutes. Add half of the chicken stock and scrape up the lovely browned bits from the bottom of the pot which are full of flavour. Stir in the tomatoes and tomato puree.
Return the lamb to the casserole and add the chickpeas. Pour in the rest of the chicken stock to cover the meat and bring to the boil. Season, put lid on and transfer to the oven. Cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bones.
Transfer the braised lamb shanks out of the put and take all the meat of the bones and cut into bit size pieces. Look for the fatty membrane and hard bone ends and remove that too. Skim the fat from the surface of the sauce, bring to the boil and reduce to a medium heat to reduce the sauce to the consistency you like. Tip the meat back into the sauce and bring back up to temperature. Serve and pass around the harissa which is delicious spooned alongside your couscous or veg of choice. Enjoy and let me know what you think!