Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lamb Shank With Dried Apricots and Spices

I've been a vegetarian since I was seventeen years old. I don't mind cooking animal products, but I am at a very real disadvantage not being able to taste as I learn. I have to take Mr. ETB's word for it when he tells me something is good, or awful. He's fairly honest with that, so I feel comfortable posting a recipe after he's tried it out.

What I lack in experience with eating, I make up for with reading. I have a pretty good sense of what works well together. This is not to say that I haven't turned out really horrible dishes-because I have, but at least I have an idea of what spices work well with a particular meat.

Cleaning out the freezer, I found a single lamb shank purchased some time after Easter last year. If I'd planned ahead, I could have soaked beans and made a bean/barley cholent, but I didn't. I had half a bag of dried apricots, half a bottle of cheap red wine, and some preserved lemon which suggested I ought to go the North African route with this, which I did.

You Will Need:

1-2 small lamb shanks
Salt and pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil (about)
1 cup dried apricots
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon preserved lemon peel, chopped
4 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 cups dry red wine
Water to cover

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat and sear the lamb shank really well. Remove lamb to a plate and add everything except the wine and water to the pan. Cook for a few minutes to combine the spices. Add the wine, increase the heat and boil about two minutes. Reduce heat, add the lamb shank (s) and enough water to cover. Place a lid on and cook 1 hour in a 350 degree f. oven. Carefully (steam) open the casserole and turn the shanks making sure to keep them submerged. Replace cover and cook another hour until tender. If the liquid is boiling rather than simmering, reduce the heat to 325 degrees F.

When lamb is tender, remove to a rack inside a roasting pan. Increase oven heat to 425 degrees F. Strain the liquid from the cooking casserole and discard the solids. Return liquid to pan, and over very high heat, boil until reduced to 1/4 volume. It should begin to thicken a bit and coat the spoon. Pour over the lamb, return to the oven and cook 5 minutes. Baste with pan juices, return to the oven and cook another five minutes. Give it a final basting, then remove from oven. Tent loosely, and let stand at least ten minutes before serving.

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