These slow-cooked, melt-in-the-mouth lamb shanks have a sweet hit from the dates along with a kick from the vibrant, herby zhoug just before serving – making this the perfect, hearty winter meal.
4 meaty lamb shanks
sea salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 red onions, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons berber spice mix (I use Alexandra’s)
1 tablespoon harissa or more to taste
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
400-gram tin crushed tomatoes
½ cup beef stock (I use Gault’s Beef stock concentrate)
2 x 400-gram tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
8 fresh dates, pitted
Herby Zhoug, see recipe below
Preheat the oven to 160°C regular bake.
Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown well on all sides. Transfer to a large casserole dish that will hold them easily in a single layer and tuck in the star anise and cinnamon sticks.
Put the onions, spice mix, harissa, honey, vinegar, garlic and ginger in a food processor and blitz to a coarse paste. Stir in the tomatoes and stock and season well with salt and pepper then tip over the shanks.
Cover with a piece of baking paper then foil or a lid to seal tightly. Cook for 2 hours then uncover and stir in the chickpeas and the dates. Cook uncovered for a further 1 hour or until the meat is super tender and is starting to fall off the bone.
TO SERVE: Tilt the pan and scoop off all the excess fat if serving immediately, otherwise leave to cool then chill. Before reheating, carefully lift off all the fat that will have set on the surface and discard. Cover again and reheat in the oven for about 1 hour or until the meat is fully heated through and the sauce is bubbling. Serve with the zhoug.
Herby Zhoug (GF) (V)
1 packed cup each coriander and parsley leaves
1⁄2 cup dill or fennel fronds, optional
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 long green chilli, roughly chopped, with seeds
1 teaspoon each ground cumin and cardamom
1 teaspoon runny honey
1½ teaspoons sea salt
½ cup olive oil
Put all the ingredients except the oil in a small food processor and blitz until roughly chopped. Drizzle in the oil to make a vibrant bright green sauce. Taste and adjust with more honey or vinegar if needed. MAKES 1 CUP