Mar 13, 2017

Braised Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Shanks with Herb Salad

Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 3 hrs
In this recipe, the lamb is braised in Moroccan spices until it is "fall off the bone tender" and is paired with a flavorful herb salad for an impressive entrée fit for a dinner party.

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In this recipe, the lamb is braised in Moroccan spices until it is “fall off the bone tender” and is paired with a flavorful herb salad for an impressive entrée fit for a dinner party. I love playing around with different spices from different parts of the world. The spices in this braise are a version of the common Moroccan spice combination, ras al hanout – a warm combination of cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and cayenne. Serve this lamb on it’s own or paired with couscous.

Braised Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Herb Salad

Why Braise Meat?

Braising is the method of cooking meat at a low temperature for a long cook time in a tightly sealed container. It’s forgiving and it allows for tough cuts of meat to break down and become tender and juicy. Slow cooking the lamb in the Dutch oven keeps steam from escaping, locking in the flavor and keeping the meat from drying out. The lamb should be fork tender, meaning no knife is needed! Check out other comforting braise recipes here.

Browning the meat first seared in the pot until it’s lightly browned then liquid is added to deglaze the bottom and pick up any of the flavorful browned bits. This adds more flavor to the braised lamb shanks recipe as the meat cooks and becomes tender.

Key Ingredients in This Recipe

  • Lamb shanks – Lamb shanks are the muscular bottom portion of the lamb leg and due to that muscle they can be tough. Braising the meat in the oven allows for the connective tissue to break and for the meat to become tender and flavorful. While they take a little longer to cook they are worth it, as they also are a cheaper cut of meat so they are great when you are cooking for a larger group of people.
  • Spices – The lamb is seasoned with a warm, fragrant combination of cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and cayenne. This combination of spices is called ras al hanout which can be purchased as a pre-mixed spice though it can differ brand to brand. The name translates to “top of the shop” – the best spices in the store.
  • Chicken stock – Chicken stock is typically made from chicken bones as well as aromatics and vegetables while chicken broth is made with the meat. How does that affect their flavor? Chicken stock has a much richer, more robust flavor which comes from the collagen released from the simmering bones. On the other hand, chicken broth is much more mellow in flavor. I typically use chicken stock when cooking. In a pinch the chicken stock can be substituted with water though it takes away some of the flavor.
  • Crushed tomatoes –  Canned crushed tomatoes are a blend of diced tomatoes and tomato puree. The tomatoes are first cooked and peeled before they are diced.
  • Onions – While many other recipes add sautéed onion, carrot or celery for added flavor I just use onions to complement the spices in this recipe.

How to Make Braised Lamb Shanks

  1. Heat oven. Preheat oven to 325ºF (170ºC). Heat a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat through.
  2. Season the lamb and sear. Season the shanks with salt and pepper then working 2 at a time, brown the shanks on all sides. Set aside and repeat with the remaining shanks.
  3. Cook the aromatics. Lower the heat to medium then add the onion and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  4. Make the ras el hanout. In a small bowl stir together the cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and cayenne until completely combined.
  5. Deglaze the pan. Add to the pot and let the spices cook until fragrant, about an additional minute. Add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan followed by the tomatoes and lamb shanks then bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Braise the lamb. Cover tightly with the lid then place in the oven and braise until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours. Rotate the lamb about every hour.
  7. Reduce the sauce. Remove the lid and raise the heat to 350ºF (180ºC), and continue to bake until the lamb browns lightly and the liquid reduces, uncovered. Remove from the oven and let cool.
  8. Make the pickled onions. In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk the vinegar, ½ cup water, sugar, salt and peppercorns together until combined and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the onion to a small bowl and pour the mixture over the top.
  9. Make the herb salad. Let the quick pickled onions sit for at least 10 minutes. Add the onions to a medium-mixing bowl. Add the parsley, cilantro, mint and lemon zest. Toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and season with salt.
  10. Plate and serve. Serve the lamb shanks in bowls topped with the herb salad over the top.

Other Recipes to Try

If you enjoy this recipe, I recommend checking out some of these:

Braised Moroccan-Spiced Lamb Shanks with Herb Salad

Print Pin
Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Serves 4

Ingredients:

Braised lamb shank:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
  • 4 bone-in lamb shanks, about 4 pounds
  • 2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • teaspoon ground ginger
  • teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Herb salad with quick pickled onions:

  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • ½ medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup (packed) parsley leaves
  • 1 cup (packed) cilantro leaves
  • ½ cup (packed) mint
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Braised lamb shank:

  • Preheat oven to 325ºF (170ºC). Heat a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat through.
  • Season the shanks with salt and pepper then working 2 at a time, brown the shanks on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Set aside and repeat with the remaining shanks.
  • Lower the heat to medium then add the onion and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  •  In a small bowl stir together the cumin, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and cayenne until completely combined.
  • Add to the pot and let the spices cook until fragrant, about an additional minute. Add the chicken stock to deglaze the pan followed by the tomatoes and lamb shanks then bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Cover tightly with the lid then place in the oven and braise until the meat is falling off the bone, about 3 hours. Rotate the lamb about every hour.
  • Remove the lid and raise the heat to 350ºF (180ºC), and continue to bake until the lamb browns lightly and the liquid reduces, about an additional 30 minutes, uncovered. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Herb salad with quick pickled onions:

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk the vinegar, ½ cup water, sugar, salt and peppercorns together until combined and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the onion to a small bowl and pour the mixture over the top.
  • Let the quick pickled onions sit for at least 10 minutes. Add the onions to a medium-mixing bowl. Add the parsley, cilantro, mint and lemon zest. Toss with the olive oil and season with salt.

To serve:

  • Serve the lamb shanks in bowls topped with the herb salad over the top.

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  1. Hi KYLIE, I MADE THIS DISH FOR CHRISTMAS AND IT WAS A SHOW STOPPER. I MADE IT I A LOVELY OVEN DISH /PAN AMD SET IT RIGHT ON THE DINNER TABLE WITH ROAST POTATOES AND A BIG GREEN SALAD ON THE SIDE. IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT AFTER 3 AND 1/2 HOURS OF SLOW COOKING. SIMPLY DELICIOUS.

  2. Made this today for dinner. Super easy to follow instructions. The flavor was amazing. It was the perfect meal for a cold day here in the north east. Will definitely be making this again!