Slow Cooker Moroccan Lamb Shanks. Naturally gluten-free. The slow cooker slowly braises these lemon cinnamon scented lamb shanks and renders them utterly delicious and totally tender.
In culinary school part of our first year curriculum was a class called World Flavors. Every week we would focus on a different region of the world, study their food culture, and how certain cooking techniques and ingredients came to be traditions in each area. In order to cover the whole planet in a month, our chef divided it all up into regions. Then on the last two days of the week we would prepare a feast that featured recipes from that week’s region.
During that month, I remember making preserved lemons from scratch, cooking with rose water for the first time, making home made ras el hanout with about 40 different spices. I’ll never forget the cardamom spiced rice pudding with almonds (kheer) we made when we were focusing on South Asian food. Yum!
When we got to African cuisine, I remember deciding on the spot that it was my favorite week. I think it was the use of preserved lemons that really did me in. And the tagine with prunes! Oh yum! All those sweet and savory and spicy flavors together. Everything was so warm and rich! Gah! I even went out and bought one of Jessica Harris’s cookbooks because I was hungry for more!
As this Moroccan Lamb shank recipe simmered away in the slow cooker on the counter top the house filled with the scent of cinnamon, garlic, saffron and lemon. It reminded me of that World Flavors class and all the amazing riches we tasted all those years ago.
What region do you think would be your favorite cuisine to learn about?
What other Moroccan inspired meals do you like?
Have you ever made preserved lemons or ras el hanout?
The slow cooker slowly braises these lemon cinnamon scented lamb shanks and renders them utterly delicious and totally tender.
- 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 lamb shanks (about 3 ½ pounds)
- 1 large onion, white or yellow
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 1/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
- 2 cups water
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 14-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 ½ -inch wide by 2 inch long strip of lemon peel made with vegetable peeler
- 1 cup chopped parsley
- lemon zest and wedges for serving
- Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add lamb shanks and sear, turning occasionally until browned on all sides, 5 to 7minutes. Transfer to the insert of a large slow cooker.
- Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the skillet and add onion, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring often until the onion is browning, 4 to 6minutes. Add saffron, cinnamon and cayenne and stir to coat. Add water and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits from the skillet. Pour the onion mixture over the lamb shanks. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, honey and lemon peel. Cover and set slow cooker to low for 6 hours. Remove meat from lamb shanks and stir into chickpea soup. Ladle into 6 bowls. For 4 (more generous portions) serve shanks whole in a pasta bowl with 1 ½ cup soup ladled on top. Garnish with parsley, lemon zest and lemon wedges.
Makes 24 ounces cooked lamb and 6 cups chickpea soup.
- Serving Size: 1 1/2 cup each
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