Braised Lamb Shanks with Ras al Hanout, Cracked Wheat, Almonds, Piquillo Peppers, Dried Apricots, Capers and Yoghurt.
For the shanks
4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 lamb shanks from the leg
- 1 head of garlic cut in half
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 2 glasses dry white wine
- 2 tomatoes, quartered
- 11/2 litres of chicken stock
- Large sprig each of thyme, rosemary and bay leaf
- 1 slice of lemon
- Pinch of saffron
- 11/2 teaspoon of ras al hanout spice mix
- 8 dried apricots
- 3 tbsp runny honey
For the toasted cracked wheat
- 120g cracked wheat (also called bulgar wheat)
- 300ml water
- 1 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon (optional)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
For the garnish
- 4 good quality tinned pequillo peppers, diced
- 1 tbsp capers, drained
- 2 tbsp blanched whole almonds, toasted
- Fried parsley leaves
- 2 tbsp set Greek yoghurt
For the shanks
- In a large casserole dish, sauté the onions, carrots and garlic in the olive oil until golden and lovely. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more then add the wine and reduce by three quarters. Add the stock to the pan with the herbs, lemon, saffron and 1 teaspoon of ras el hanout. Bring to the boil, add a little salt then the shanks and simmer for 10 minutes. Skim any grease or foam from the surface then cover the pan with foil and a tight fitting lid to give a really good seal.
- Place the pan into a moderate oven (120°) for 2-2½hours or until the meat is tender. Check the level of the liquid after 1½hours and top up with more stock or water if necessary. The smaller shoulder shanks will be ready after 1½ -2 hours.
- When cooled, remove the shanks from the pan, cover and keep warm while you attend to the sauce.
- Strain the cooking liquor into a clear pan. If it is a little thin, boil to reduce it to a sauce consistency then taste and add the other ½ teaspoon of ras al hanout and the dried apricots if you wish. Keep everything warm until needed
Note: you can cook the shanks up to 2 days in advance. Store them in their cooking juice in the fridge then simply reheat them and proceed as above
For the cracked wheat
- Heat a pan large enough to take the cracked wheat in a layer of 2cm or so deep. Tip in the wheat and toast over a moderate heat shaking or stirring the pan frequently.
- The wheat will darken a little and give off a lovely nutty aroma. This the time to add the water, pinch of salt and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and cook gently until all the water is absorbed and the wheat is tender. Keep warm until needed.
To finish and serve
- Drizzle the shanks with a little honey and salt. Place them in a moderate to hot oven for 8-10 minutes or until hot and glazed
- Meanwhile, add the olive oil to the wheat and the lemon dice if using.
- In a small pan sauté the almonds in the remaining olive oil then add the piquillo peppers and capers. Season with salt.
- Place a spoonful of cracked wheat at the centre of each plate with a shank on top. Spoon the almond mixture around followed by some of the sauce. Finish with Greek yoghurt and the fried parsley leaves.