Middle Eastern spices and the richness of lamb are a marriage made in heaven so get cooking this slow cooked lamb shank stew. The flavours are fresh, warming and fragrant so, if this is new to you, this is a great way to try them. I have opted for a balance of spices such as cumin and coriander which bring dishes to life. Give yourself plenty of time for this to slow cook in the oven to allow flavours to develop.
Seeing as it’s autumn and the nights are now cold and dark, I have added colour by serving this with mixed vegetable cous cous but it would be just as delicious with saffron rice.
Ingredients- serves 2
For the stew
Glug of vegetable oil
2 lamb shanks
1 large red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or sliced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 ground cardamom
400ml tinned chopped tomatoes
300ml good quality beef stock
Handful of dried apricots- halved if large
For the cous cous
Glug of vegetable oil
200g cous cous
Approx. 300g mixed vegetables e.g. aubergine, red onion, courgette
Pinch of saffron
Fresh coriander- chopped
1. Start by preheating the oven to 140c/ 120 fan. Take a large pan with a well fitting lid and add a glug of oil over a medium to high heat. You need to brown off the lamb shanks so they are golden all over; this will add to the flavour later so don’t rush this. Make sure they are golden all over and remove from the pan; set aside.
2. If you find a lot of fat has come out of the lamb shanks then drain a little off so you have around 1 tbsp left. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onion and garlic until they soften but not colour. I add a pinch of sea salt at this stage to season but do remember to check the seasoning as you go and adjust to taste. Add in the spices and cook for a further minute or two. Stir to ensure that they spices coat all the onion well.
3. Pour in the tomatoes and stock before adding the shanks back to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil before covering with the lid and placing in the preheated oven. Cook on a low heat for 2 1/2- 3 hours; when the lamb is ready it will come away from the bone really easily. At 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time the apricots need to be added; if they are put in at the start they will disintegrate but if you put them in near the end they add a wonderful sweetness.
4. When you are nearly ready to eat, start making the cous cous. This could not be easier! Take the vegetables you have chosen and dice so they are in pieces that are easy to mix through the cous cous. Add a small amount of oil in a pan and gently cook the vegetables. Vegetables such as onion, squash and aubergine go well with the richness of the lamb. Season and remove from the heat. For the cous cous, boil a kettle and, in a measuring jug, add some water and the strands of saffron. Pout over the cous cous to cover it and place a tea towel over the top to allow the cous cous to absorb the water. Fluff with a fork and add a drop more water if you need. Toss through the vegetables, a liberal sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander and it is ready to serve with tender lamb.
Delicately fragrant Persian style spiced lamb shank stew- a true winter warmer!