I have such a crazy obsession with Moroccan food. I love the heady, aromatic ingredients and especially the tagines. In the simplest terms, tagines are magic. They’re essentially either meat or vegetables braised for a long time in beautiful spices and aromatics, dotted with subtly sweet gems and briny, bright bites like dried apricots, prunes, preserved lemons, and olives.
For this version, we’re going with lamb because it’s super classic and the way it’s served right off the shank is so indulgently primal. By the end of its staycation in the oven, it should be so tender that you could serve it with a spoon. If you can’t, put that baby back into the oven until it submits.
4 lamb shanks
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium carrots, finely diced
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large fennel bulb, finely diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon harissa, store-bought or homemade
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Large pinch of good-quality saffron threads
Pinch of ground cinnamon
4 cups chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon honey
¾ cup whole dried apricots
1½ tablespoons chopped preserved lemon rind, store-bought or homemade
Chopped fresh coriander, for garnish
Couscous, for serving
1 Preheat the oven to 160°C fan / 180°C / 350°F.
2 Season the lamb liberally with salt and pepper. In a large cast iron casserole dish or other heavy ovenproof pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the lamb shanks and sear until golden all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a plate and set aside; don’t turn off the heat.
3 Add the carrots, onion and fennel to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook just until the vegetables begin to soften, about six minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, harissa, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin seeds, turmeric, saffron and cinnamon and cook for a minute or two, until the spices are very fragrant. Return the lamb to the pot and add the stock and honey. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Cover and transfer to the oven to cook for two hours 30 minutes.
4 Remove the pot from the oven and stir in the apricots and preserved lemon. Replace the lid and return the pot to the oven for another 30 minutes. You want the lamb to be falling off the bone. Top with coriander and serve hot, with fluffy couscous.
Extracted from Eating Out Loud: Bold Middle Eastern Flavors for All Day, Every Day by Eden Grinshpan. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, priced £25 (hardback)
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