Moroccan Spiced Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas

When I do a weekend shop and I haven’t quite decided what I want to cook sometimes I’ll go along to the supermarket, see what’s on sale or special offer and base my Sunday lunch around what I find. A great place to look for bargains is in the reduced section. A lot of meat and fish will be marked down by a couple of pounds just because they have a short time left on the use-by date. Which is absolutely not a problem if you’re going to cook with it that day or going to put it straight in the freezer. I picked a couple of lamb shanks recently in the reduced section as they were a real bargain at almost half their usual price. The best way to cook lamb shanks is low and slow which lends itself brilliantly to Moroccan tagine style dish.

I chose to cook chickpeas with this dish as they lend themselves brilliantly to the Moroccan style flavours of this dish and are robust enough to withstand the long slow cook. The apricots and tomatoes add a good amount of sweetness without overpowering the dish and whilst it may seem like a long list of spices on the ingredients list, if you’re a regular cook or baker you probably have them in your cupboard already and it’s worth it for the maximum flavour punch they bring to this dish. However, if you have an empty spice cupboard don’t feel like you have to spend a fortune going and buying them all, substitute for half a tablespoon of a spice blend or spice mix such as ras-al-hanout.

Whilst there are two lamb shanks in this dish, there will be enough stew for leftovers so you can either freeze the leftovers for another time or add two more lamb shanks if you have guests. This dish works perfectly as it is for a lazy Sunday afternoon but if I was having guests I’d serve with lemon and coriander cous cous and toasted flatbreads which would be great for mopping up the sauce.

Ingredients

(Serves 2, with leftover stew)

2 tbsp coconut oil

2 lamb shanks

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 carrot, sliced diagonally

1 red chilli, thinly sliced

4 whole garlic cloves, peeled

4 tomatoes, quartered

1 tin chick peas

1 beef or lamb stock cube or stock pot

400ml water

1 tsp dried sage

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp turmeric

Salt and pepper

100g dried apricots

Large handful frozen spinach

Method

1. Preheat oven to 150ºC.

2. Drizzle about a third of the oil over the lamb shanks and season generously with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over half of the nutmeg and massage into the lamb ensuring it’s well coated.

3. Bring a frying pan to a medium-high heat with half of the remaining cooking oil. Gently fry the lamb shanks, regularly turning until browned on all sides. Remove from the heat and set lamb shanks aside.

4. In a casserole dish heat the remaining cooking oil and add the onions, carrots and red chilli. Cook until onions have slightly softened. Then add the dried sage, chilli flakes, garlic cloves and tomatoes.

5. When the tomatoes have begun to cook down a little add all of the remaining spices and season generously with salt and pepper. Give everything a good mix ensuring the spices coat all of the ingredients. Continue to cook for a further couple of minutes.

6. Add the whole tin of chick peas and their juices, another 400ml of water, stock cube or pot, apricots and frozen spinach. Bring to the boil.

7. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and make a little well for the lamb shanks. Place the lamb shanks into the mixture with the bone sticking up. Put the lid on the casserole dish and place in the oven.

8. Roast in the oven for 3.5 hours.

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