North African Lamb Shank with Saffron Couscous

Contributing Chef- Abby Reibman-Author of  The Desk and The Stove

This is one large yummy dish that is perfect for sharing with a close group of friends.  Sit on the floor with lots of cushions Moroccan style and serve in a large tagine pot – your guests will have lots of fun scooping up the falling-off-the-bone tender meat and delicious saffron couscous.  The Hostess Handbook suggests lots of bold-flavored red wine to complement the spiced meat – and, perhaps some after dinner hookah?



2 lamb shanks
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 large red onion, large dice
1 carrot, large dice
4 celery sticks, cut into big chunks
1 tbl paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp chili flakes
1 can tomatoes
1 cup of lamb or beef stock
5 garlic cloves, crushed with the heel of your knife
4 sprigs ea. parsley and cilantro, plus more (chopped) for garnish
2 sprigs of rosemary
zest and juice of ½ a lemon
10 dried apricots, cut into halves
bay leaf
salt and pepper
olive oil


1-    Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and sear them on all sides in olive oil over a hot flame. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2-    In a dutch oven or large roasting pan, sauté the onion, carrot, celery and crushed garlic over medium- high heat and season with salt and pepper. Once the vegetables start to take color, add in 1/3 bottle of the red wine and let reduce to about ½ its volume. Add in the herbs, bay leaf and spices, apricot halves, lemon zest and lemon juice.

3-    Pour in the can of tomatoes and lamb or beef stock and return the lamb shanks to the liquid.  Make sure the lamb shanks are completely submerged – add more water if necessary.

4-    Braise the lamb shanks for approx. 3-4 hours, check half way and add more liquid if necessary.

5-    Once the lamb shanks are cooked, strain off ½ braising liquid and pour into a small saucepan. Reserve the apricot halves and cooked carrots to serve with the lamb (sprinkle a bit of cumin on them for an extra punch).

6-   Cook the strained braising liquid over medium heat until it reduces to a thick sauce. Reserve and keep warm.

7-    Pour boiling water over the couscous, add a drizzle of olive oil, a few pinches of salt and a few strands of saffron. Cover and let sit for 5-6 min. Remove the cover and fluff with a fork.

8-    Serve the lamb shanks over the saffron couscous with the reserved carrot and apricot mixture. Pour the sauce on top and garnish with chopped cilantro and parsley.

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