Melt-in-your mouth lamb shanks in a rich, deeply flavored sauce. Just a quick sear and then the oven does the rest! Perfect for a cozy dinner and a no fuss, fail-safe way to put together a make-ahead show stopping entrée for the holidays!
A half hour prep then hands off ’cause the oven does the rest..
I’ve seen lamb shanks on the menu of every fine dining restaurant that I’ve gone to. What can I say, I love ordering it! Seeing that aromatic, deeply flavored sauce puddle over creamy mashed potatoes makes my heart sing…and boy was I was shocked to discover how easy and cheaper it was to make at home..
Prep work literally consists of a little sautéing and searing, dumping the remaining ingredients into the pot and letting the oven do the rest of the work.
What you need to make Moroccan Lamb
All you really need to bring together the rich flavors is rosemary and thyme, garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon powder, an onion and some chicken stock. Cornstarch is used to thicken the sauce. I use olive oil because I love cooking with it, but any vegetable oil will do.
My recipe includeother ingredients that I add to make the lamb more stew like – I love adding carrots and Klondike potatoes because it adds dimension. The prunes adds to the velvety texture and a little sweetness to the sauce.
This recipe is fail-proof because it’s really hard to overcook lamb. The worst that can happen is that the meat falls right off the bone when you serve it. Regardless, the meat will still be deliciously succulent and tender.
- Lamb shanks are cut from the shin of the lamb. Because it is a hard working muscle, it is full of connective tissue and collagen. Lamb shanks are typically sold with the center bone intact and is cooked on the bone with no other prep required. It is a more affordable cut because it requires a longer cooking time. The easiest way to cook is through braising and slow cooking. The braising helps the sauce develop a deeper flavor. High oven heat tenderizes the meat making it melt-in-the mouth tender. Neck bones help develop a more intensely flavored broth. Both lamb shanks and neck bones are easily available in supermarkets.
- Cornstarch used to help thicken the sauce and also to help more easily brown the meat.
- Rosemary and thyme I use fresh rosemary and thyme but in a pinch dried rosemary and thyme will also do.
- Garlic the garlic along with the rosemary and thyme is used to flavor the oil before braising the meat.
- Tomato paste adds a hint of acidity and also helps thicken and intensify the flavor of the sauce.
- Cinnamon powder is a dominant spice for this recipe.
- Chicken stock and broth are used to create the braising liquid to submerge the shanks as well as to add flavor into the sauce.
How to make Moroccan Lamb
My recipe includes some other ingredients that I add to make the lamb more stew like – I love adding carrots and klondike potatoes because it adds dimension. The prunes add a little sweetness to the sauce.
This recipe is fail-proof because its really hard to overcook lamb. The worst that can happen is that the meat falls right off the bone if you leave it in the oven too long. The meat is still deliciously succulent and tender.
- Boil the chicken stock and bouillon cube. set aside.
- Mix the cornstarch, salt and olive oil.
- Coat the lamb shanks and neckbones with the mixture.
- In a dutch oven, saute the garlic, rosemary and thyme in olive oil .
- Brown the coated lamb in the flavored olive oil.
- Add all the other ingredients into the dutch oven and bring to a boil.
- Bake covered for 1 1/2 hours in an oven pre-heated to 450°F.
How to serve Moroccan Lamb
As with all red meat stews, this dish gets better with time. As a result its a great make-ahead dish for a party because resting it overnight or 1-2 days in the fridge intensifies the flavors.
Couscous with mushrooms is a classic way to serve Moroccan lamb. To be honest though, I love having it over a pile of garlic mashed potatoes. Rice, polenta and if counting carbs, mashed cauliflower also pairs well with this dish. I have also served Moroccan lamb with crusty baguettes and roti. The essential thing is to have something to soak up that incredible sauce.
A side salad with an acidic dressing complements the rich velvety sauce particularly well. My favorite side salad with this dish is Red Onion, Coriander and Lemon salad.
Watch how to make Moroccan Lamb
Braised Moroccan Lamb
- 5 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 chicken bouillon cube
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 lb lamb neck cut into stew sized pieces
- 3 lb lamb shank about 4
- 2 sprigs rosemary fresh, about 8 inches
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 12 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 onion large, cut into chunks
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp cumin coriander powder optional
- 1/2 tsp paprika powder optional
- 8 prunes dried, optional
- 2 jalapenos sliced, optional
- 2 carrots large, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces, optional
- 1 lb klondike fingerling potatoes cut in half, optional
- Pre-heat the oven to 450° F.
- Put the chicken stock and bouillon cube in a saucepan. Bring to boil. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine the salt and corn starch with 2 tbsp of olive oil . Add the lamb and coat thoroughly with the mixture.
- Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large dutch oven (I use 6 3/4 quart) on medium high heat. Add the crushed garlic, rosemary and thyme and sauté until fragrant.
- Brown the lamb pieces, a few at a time - about 3-4 minutes on each side.
- Add all the remaining ingredients including the chicken broth and bring to a boil.
- Cover the dutch oven and place in the middle rack. Cook until fork tender- about 1 1/2 hours.