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Braised Moroccan lamb shanks with harissa and other African flavors is the perfect fork tender recipe; just like what I enjoyed while traveling through Morocco.
I can recall the thick noise of the Friday night market in Marrakech. Our group of photographers sat on a rooftop
Even as dusk arrived, everything about Morocco was alive and bursting with color. The souqs were filled with rich indigos powders for dying, mounds of ripe olives plucked, and an abundance of herbs.
The trade market has been long thriving through Morocco, making it an epicureans delight to experience new foods and flavors in. Moroccan food has a rich history connecting Africa to Europe as an integral part of the trade routes.
I could have lingered from that spot, watching the ballet of bustling life below all night.
Our dinners arrived, in warm terra-cotta pots, called ‘tagines’, keeping the aromatic mixes of meats, veggies, and dried fruits steaming hot. The layers of flavors in each dish was a harmonic blend of sweet, savory and spice, all mixing for a perfect note, much like the blending of the people in the market crowd.
With its history being enriched with so many cultural influences, Moroccan cuisine as becoming one of my favorites at home. Having lamb shanks fresh at my market had me longing for the rich North African tagines and flavors so I got crafty in my kitchen, recreating a blend of my favorite flavors while traveling through Morocco.
How to Make Moroccan Lamb Shanks
These lamb shanks come together easily because they are braised with a variety of comforting flavors.
Braising in the oven keeps the meat moist as everything slowly cooks, breaking down and creating fork tender bites.
use meaty lamb shanks for this recipe with visible bones. As the lamb cooks down the bone will become more pronounced. You can remove it and shred the meat or leave it on the bone when serving.
Lamb shanks are perfect for braising as the connective tissue of the leg slowly breaks down becoming tender with the slow long application of heat. Perfect for
Be creative and frugal with your ingredients on hand, mixing in dried fruits such as dates, apricots or figs if you have them on hand. The sweetness of the dried fruits pairs beautifully with the spices.
What is Harissa?
Harissa is one of my favorite global condiments. From North Africa, harissa is a blend of roasted peppers and spices in oil used as a topping or mixed into recipes to add richness and flavors.
Recipes for harissa vary in spiciness but it is meant to be a fiery condiment, and they often included a variety of hot peppers like serranos. Harissa also includes a variety of spices like cumin, garlic, caraway, and coriander. I have seen it sold in tubes but prefer it in jars where I can spoon out as much or little as needed.
When using Harissa for the first time, it’s a good idea to mix in a small amount and
If you are unable to find harissa in your local market, check out Mina Harissa online, they make some of my favorite harissas for cooking or substitute with hot sauce, chili flakes, or sriracha.
You can even whip up a quick and simplified version by grinding dried
Want more lamb inspiration? Try some of my favorite recipes
- Moroccan Lamb Pizza
- Harissa Butter Lamb Burgers
- Turmeric Ground Lamb and Eggs
- Harissa Marinated Lamb Kabobs
- Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Lamb Burger
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Braised Moroccan Lamb Shanks
- 4 lbs bone in lamb shanks
- salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 2 tbsp tomato pasta
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes drained
- 1 – 2 tbsp harissa
- 1/2 cup golden raisins
- 1/4 cup olives sliced
- parsley or cilantro for garnish
- Preheat oven to 325 F.
- Pat the lamb dry and season liberally with salt.
- In a Dutch oven or braiser, heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the lamb on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the lamb and cover.
- Reduce heat to medium.
- Add the onion and carrot to the Dutch oven and a saute 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander and nutmeg.
- Mix in the tomato paste, stirring to coat and toast for 30 seconds longer.
- Add the wine a little at a time and deglaze the pan by scraping up the browned bits.
- Whisk in the broth, tomatoes, harissa, and raisins. Season with salt and pepper.
- Nestle the lamb back into the Dutch oven and cover.
- Transfer to the oven and cook for 60 to 90 minutes, until the lamb is fork tender.
- Remove from and let rest 10 minutes before serving.
- Garlish with fresh sliced olives and chopped parsley.