Braised Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Apricot Almond Couscous
Morocco . . . the gateway between Europe and Africa, and a culinary star in her own right. Although Morocco’s culture has been influenced by trade from Europe, the country has still retained her own flavor by using bold, rich spices. Couscous and lamb are staples of Moroccan cuisine, and this recipe adapted from Chef Steve Chiappeti at Viand Restaurant in Chicago incorporates these two essentials into an exotic braised dish.
For the lamb:
4 1 1/2-pound lamb shanks
2 tablespoons curry powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tsp caraway seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup diced onions
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup mustard
1 1/2 ounces Glace de Agneau Gold® dissolved in 4 cups hot water
4 bay leaves
1/2 cup molasses
Salt and ground black pepper
For the couscous :
1 1/2 ounces Veggie-Stock Gold® dissolved in 4 cups hot water
Salt and ground black epper
3 cups couscous
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
1/4 cup almond slivers, toasted
1/4 cup coconut flakes, toasted
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine the curry powder, cumin, cinnamon, and caraway, and rub the mixture all over the lamb shanks.
Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the shanks on all sides, then remove them from the skillet and set them aside.
Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are tender 6-8 minutes. Add the ketchup, sugar, and mustard. Pour in the diluted Glace de Agneau Gold®, stirring to combine and scraping any browned bits off the pan. Stir in the molasses and the bay leaves.
Return the lamb shanks to the pan, cover the pan, and transfer it to the oven. Braise the shanks for 2 1/2 hours, or until they are fork tender.
While the lamb is braising, make the couscous. In a medium saucepan, bring the diluted Veggie-Stock Gold® to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the couscous. Cover the pan and let the couscous stand for 5-7 minutes, until the stock is absorbed and the couscous is tender. Fluff the couscous with a fork and gently stir in the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Set the couscous aside and keep it warm.
When the lamb is done, remove the pan from the oven and place on it on a stovetop burner. Remove the shanks and set them aside tented with foil. Bring the pan juices to a simmer and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve each shank on top of a mound of the couscous with the sauce ladled over the top.
Wine Pairing: Zinfandel or Rioja