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Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Middle Eastern Lamb Shanks with Coriander Pesto

We love our lamb shanks. Once given to the dog they weren't regarded as anything special. To my knowledge they were not even sold separately. Now they are a culinary must for a winter dinner. Slow cooked, meat falling off the bone, unctuous, glossy and full off flavour. Whilst they should be, they are not an incredibly cheap meal as they once would have been. Paying by weight there is often more bone than meat. You will need at least one for each person, maybe one and a half to two for men.
The dish can be prepared a day ahead and as is the case with all casserole type dishes it is often better the next day. Particularly yummy, if you have any left over take the meat off the bone and serve it with pasta perhaps a wide ribbon pasta, for another meal.
I have made shanks in many ways, with orange and dates and tomatoes. I taught this for many years in my cooking classes and it is by far my favourite. Spicy and sweet and full of flavour. The following amounts will feed 8-10 people.

150 ml canola oil
10 lamb shanks
2 onions, chopped
large bunch coriander
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
30 grams  ground coriander
30 grams ground cumin
2 red chillies
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup fresh ginger grated
2 pinches saffron
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic sliced
150 ml white wine
chicken stock
approx 20 dried apricots.

Coriander Pesto

2 bunches coriander
2 cloves garlic
150 grams walnuts
2 green chillies
150 grams grated parmesan

Place all of ground cumin, coriander, chillies, honey and fresh coriander into a food processor and blend. Heat the oil in a large pot and brown the shanks. Remove from pan and set aside. Fry the chopped onion in the pan and add the blended spices and honey mixture to the onion, with the garlic turmeric, ginger, cinnamon sticks and saffron and continue fry.
Add the stock and wine and stir. Return the shanks to the pot making sure all the shanks are covered.
Bake in a slow oven for 2 1/2 hours. If you want to do it a little faster, turn the oven to 200C and cook for 1 1/2 hours. When cooked remove the shanks, pour the liquid into a saucepan and simmer.
Leave to cool and skim the fat off. Strain the sauce and reduce slightly.
Add the apricots and simmer  gently. Add the coriander pesto and 2 tablespoons butter. If your guests may not want the extra chilli leave out the coriander pesto and serve it as a side, just add the butter.
Serve the shanks on a bed of cubed sweet potato roasted with onion. Pour the sauce over and drizzle with mint yoghurt and preserved lemon. I served the dish with risoni and sweet potato last night!

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