Braised Lamb Shanks with North African Spices
- Ras al Hanout (North African Spice Blend)
- 1/2 teaspoon anise seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 8 allspice berries
- 8 cardamom pods
- 15 black peppercorns
- 1 cinnamon stick (1/2 inch length)
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon mace
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Lamb Shanks and Braising Liquid
- 6 lamb shanks, 3/4 to 1 pound each, trimmed of excess fat and fell (thin, white papery covering)
- Table salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced thick
- 3 medium carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
- 2 medium ribs celery, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ancho chiles (ancho), or 2 to 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 3 cupslow-sodium chicken broth
- Ground black pepper
1. For the Ras al Hanout: In a spice grinder, combine all ingredients; grind to a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl, (you will need 2 tablespoons for this recipe; reserve the remainder to flavor the couscous or for other purposes).
2. For the Shanks: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle shanks with salt. Heat oil in a large, nonreactive sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add shanks to pan in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Sauté until browned on all sides, 5-7 minutes. Using tongs, transfer shanks to a plate as they brown.
3. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from the sauté pan; add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, a light sprinkling of salt, 2 tablespoons ras al hanout and the chiles; sauté to soften vegetables slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add red wine, then chicken stock to the skillet, stirring with a wooden spoons to loosen browned bits from skillet bottom. Bring liquid to simmer; transfer vegetables and liquid into a deep braising pan, large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer. Add shanks and season with salt and pepper.
4. Cover pan (with foil if pan has no lid) and transfer it to the oven; braise shanks for 1 1/2 hours. Uncover and continue braising until shank tops are browned, about 30 minutes. Turn shanks and continue braising until remaining side has browned and shanks are fall-off-the-bone tender.
5. Remove pan from oven; let shanks rest for at least 15 minutes. Carefully transfer shanks with tongs to each of 6 plates. Arrange a portion of vegetables around each shank. Skim excess fat from braising liquid and adjust seasoning. Spoon a portion of braising liquid over each shank and serve.