Spiced Lamb Shanks

Around my house we love lamb.  I know a lot of people are not fond of it, but they are missing out.  I’ve actually had people that were non lamb eating come to the good side and say it’s delicious.  The one thing I really don’t like… that weird mint jelly stuff.  What the heck is that and why do people eat it?  Maybe if I made some from scratch I might like it, but that stuff in the jar just makes me want to run!!

Last night I decided lamb needed to be on the menu.  I had some lovely lamb shanks that were calling to me and decided to not do my normal braised in tomato and wine sauce.  I wanted something a little different, and all the spices that go into this recipe were just what I craved.  There are quite a few different spices that I use, you could get away with using a nice garam masala and curry if  that is all you have on hand since the spices that go into those are pretty much what I use.  I just like to be able to use more of some and less of others.

This dish takes several hours to cook, so don’t plan on it being a quick meal you just throw together.  I’m guessing you could probably do the cooking part in a slow cooker rather than the oven, but I’ve never tried it.

The one tip I have for making this or any other lamb dish is to trim up the meat of excess fat.  It’s the fat that gives it that gamey taste that most people complain about.  I also like to trim off the silver skin and other “excess”.

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Now for the recipe!

4 lamb shanks

grape seed oil

2 tbsp. coriander powder

2 tbsp. cardamom powder

2 tbsp. ground fennel

2 tbsp.. cumin

1 tbsp. salt

1 tbsp. turmeric

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. mustard powder

1 tsp. nutmeg

1tsp. paprika

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp. mustard seeds

8-10 prunes cut in quarters

2 tbsp. garlic

4 tbsp. grated ginger

2 tbsp. tomato paste

2 c. beef broth

1 can coconut milk

In a bowl mix all the spices, set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Heat an oven proof pan over med-high heat.  Add 2 tbsp. of the oil and brown the shanks on all sides.  Should be a few minutes on each side.  Do not crowd the pan or you won’t get a nice crust, it will just steam.  When you are done searing all the shanks, set them aside.  Poor out the excess fat from the lamb, but continue using the same pan.  Add 1 tbsp. of the oil and the onions.  Cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the mustard seeds and let them “pop”.  Then add the garlic and ginger, cook for 2 minutes.  Add the tomato paste, mix it in well so everything is nice and coated.  Cook for another 2-3 minutes.  Add 5 tbsp. of the spice mixture and mix well.  Add the beef broth.  Return the lamb shanks to the pan and sprinkle with another 2 tbsp. of the spice mixture, cover and put in the oven.  Cook for an hour, then turn the lamb shanks over, sprinkle another 2 tbsp. of the spice mixture over them.  Cover and return to the oven for another hour, then repeat last step.  For the last hour or so, this is where you will want to see when your lamb shanks become tender.  Depending on size, it could take another full hour.  I would suggest checking at the 30 minute point to see where you are as far as tenderness goes.

I serve this with basmati rice.  I had some cauliflower, carrots and potatoes on hand so I also cooked those.  You could either pop them in with the lamb shanks for the last hour of cooking or you could roast them in the oven.  If you roast them, coat with a little oil then sprinkle some of the spice mix over them.   Toss so everything is seasoned evenly.

Also, I didn’t use very much cayenne pepper due to this was being served to 2 year olds, so if you like it with a little more heat you could up the amount of that.

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