This Moroccan inspired lamb recipe brings traditional Middle Eastern flavors to your holiday table. The savory spice mix is complemented by a refreshing yogurt sauce.

Ingredients

  • 4 Lamb Hind Shanks, approximately 1 lb. each
  • 10 Garlic Cloves, crushed with a mortar and pestel
  • 1/3 C Flat-­‐leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, minced
  • 2 tbsp. Fresh Thyme, minced

  • 1 tbsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 large yellow onions
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, cut into sixths
  • 2 Turkish Bay leaves
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 3 quarts beef stock

Moroccan Spice Blend

  • 1 tbsp. Spanish Paprika
  • ¼ tsp. Nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tbsp. Yellow Mustard Seeds
  • 2 tbsp. Whole Fenugreek
  • 4 each Cardamom Pods
  • 1/2 tsp whole allspice

Cucumber Yogurt

  • 1 quart Labne, strained greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. Champagne Vinegar
  • 4 each Confit Garlic Cloves
  • 1/3 cup Fresh Mint, chiffonade
  • ½ cup Seedless Cucumbers, petit dice

Preparation

Day 1: Prepare the Lamb

1. Place lamb shanks in a large bowl with crushed garlic and herbs; set aside.

2. Place a small sauté pan over medium heat and toast the allspice and cardamom until fragrant, approximately 2 minutes. Set aside.

3. Using a mortar and pestel, add paprika, cayenne, nutmeg, mustard seeds, and fenugreek. Blend and crush spices until all mustard seeds are broken.

4. Add the toasted allspice and cardamom pods to the spice mixture and crush the spices roughly.

5. Add the spice blend to the lamb shanks, massaging the blend into the lamb. Cover and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.

Day 2: Cooking the Lamb

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Remove the lamb shanks from the refrigerator and allow to sit out for 20 minutes. Add 1 tbsp. kosher salt to the lamb and mix well. There will be a large amount of the spice blend and herb that will not stick to the shanks, but will be used later.

3. Heat a medium braising pan on high heat. Add 1 tbsp. of pomace olive oil. Sear lamb shanks on all sides in braising pan until golden brown on all sides. Remove shanks and set aside, many of the spices and garlic will stick to the pan.

4. While the pan is still hot, add the yellow onions and remaining spice blend that was left from the marinade. Stir frequently, constantly scraping the bottom of the pan.

5. Allow the onions to become translucent, and add the carrots, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.

6. Add the two cups of red wine and reduce by two-thirds. Add the warm beef stock and let come to a boil.

7. Reduce to a simmer and gently add the lamb shanks to the liquid in the braising pan.

8. Cover and place in oven for 2 hours, checking halfway to ensure that there is enough liquid. If too much liquid has evaporated, add beef stock.

9. Remove braising pan from the oven and gently remove the lamb shanks placing on a sheet pan to cool.

10. Strain the braising liquid into another pot and place over medium heat until reduced by half.

11. Once the shanks are cool to touch, pull all of the meat off the bone, discarding any fat.

12. Add the lamb meat to the pot of the liquid and allow to cook for 30 minutes.

To Prepare the Yogurt Sauce:

Line a small strainer with cheesecloth and set over a medium sized bowl. Allow the yogurt to strain for at least one hour. Using a hand mixer, blend the yogurt with the vinegar and garlic cloves. Fold in the mint and cucumber, season with salt and pepper.

Finish the Dish:

Transfer warm lamb to a serving bowl, and serve with warm pita and a dollop of cucumber yogurt sauce.