Braised Lamb Shanks with Moroccan Blend & Honey

IMG_4791 Morrocan Blend & Tajine

Ontario spring lamb is mild and sweet, unlike older lamb or mutton, which can be gamey and strong in flavour.

Serves 2

  • 2 Ontario lamb shanks, about 10 oz (300gr) each
  • ¾ tsp each, Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed, canola, camelina, or virgin olive oil (suitable for high heat searing)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp The Epicentre Moroccan Blend (ras el hanout)
  • ½ + ⅔ cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 3 Tbsp liquid honey
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, unpeeled + 1 head of garlic, whole
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 - 3 Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes (approx. 1 lb/450gr total)
  • fresh chopped parsley, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C.

Pat lamb shanks dry with paper towels, then sprinkle all sides with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a Dutche oven over medium-high heat. Sear the lamb shanks for 10 to 12 minutes, turning occasionally, until browned own all sides. Remove shanks to a platter.

Reduce heat to medium and add onion to any fat remaining in the pot. Sauté, stirring often, for about 5 minutes until the onions soften and begin to turn golden brown.  Add Moroccan Blend and stir for 30 seconds until fragrant. Stir in ½ cup of the stock, the wine, honey, Worcestershire, 6 cloves garlic, and bay leaves. Turn heat up to high and bring to a boil while scraping all the brown bits up from the bottom.

Return the lamb shanks to the pot, cover tightly with lid, and transfer to the oven. Cook for aobut 1½ hours or until lamb is very tender. Turn the lamb shanks over once halfway through cooking.

Meanwhile, cut the top off the whole head of garlic to just barely expose the cloves. Place the head, cut side up, in a double thickness of foil. Drizzle with oil. Seal the edges of the foil tightly to form a pouch. Place in the oven alongside the pot of lamb and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the garlic is soft and tender.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Peel the potatoes and cut into a large dice. Boil until soft and tender, then drain. When the roasted garlic is done, and cool enough to handle, squeeze the whole head of cloves out and mash with a fork. Add to the potatoes and begin to mash or whip in a mixer. Add enough remaining chicken stock to achieve a smooth mash. Season to taste with salt. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Remove lamb shanks to a warm plate and tent with foil to keep warm. With a slotted spoon, remove garlic from the pot and set aside; remove the bay leaves and discard them. When the garlic is cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic from the skins.  Mash with the back of a fork and add to the pot. Boil the cooking juices over high heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until they have reduced and thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt.  

To serve, mound mashed potatoes on individual plates. Place a lamb shank on the potatoes and spoon the sauce over top.  Garnish with parsley and serve.  

Steamed green beans are a accompanying vegetable for this dish. You want a vegetable that is crisp and bright to balance the richess of the dish.

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