Moroccan Lamb with Rice Pilaf

It’s been a while! I’ve been drifting about from couch to couch most of the summer, which hasn’t afforded a lot of opportunities to cook things worth posting here. But, I am finally settled in my new city (what up Santa Cruz!) and made a large, family-sized dinner to celebrate.

I’m staying somewhere with an overstocked kitchen and pantry at the moment, and am trying to help clean out some of the excess. I found some lamb shanks in the freezer and as I worked my way through the spice cabinet hit upon a perfect meal for the cool summer evenings here. 

This is one of those recipes I made up as I went along. I’m sure there are other spices and additions that would make it even better, but I loved it as is. One thing I will say is that if you have time (say, an entire Sunday afternoon), I would recommend leaving out the carrots until the last 30 minutes and cooking the lamb much longer- say, 2-3 hours. That way, you have fall-off-the-bone tender meat. Or, make it a crock-pot style recipe; simmer the lamb all day and then add with the rest of the ingredients (carrots, rice, raisins) into a pot and finish cooking on the stove. But, for a weeknight evening, this is manageable and definitely delicious.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Ingredients

1 onion

4 cloves garlic

2 tbsp olive oil

3 lbs bone-in lamb shanks (you can definitely do boneless as well)

1 tsp turmeric

1.5 tsp paprika

1.5 tsp oregano

1/3 tsp cinnamon

4 large carrots

6 cups water

3 bay leaves

2 cups brown rice

3 oz raisins

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1 tbsp coarse grain sea salt

Directions

Dice onion and garlic. Add to large skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté until onions and garlic start to brown. 

Add spices to a large plate. Roll lamb in the spice mixture, coating on all sides, then nestle among the onion-garlic mixture and let brown on both sides (about 7 minutes per side). 

Dice carrots, then add to skillet along with water and bay leaves. Cover and let simmer over medium heat for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until lamb is tender.

Remove lamb from sauce with a slotted spoon, and set aside.Add rice and raisins to the skillet, then cover and let simmer until rice is cooked, adding more water as needed (about 40-45 minutes).

Once the rice is almost cooked, add almonds to a small skillet with 1 tbsp olive oil and toast until golden brown. Watch them carefully- they burn easily! Remove from heat and place on a small plate or bowl lined with a paper towel to drain away the excess oil. Add the salt and toss to coat.

Once the rice is cooked, add the lamb back into the rice mixture and let simmer without the lid until the cooking liquid is almost absorbed.

Just before serving, sprinkle almonds on top. (If saving some for leftovers, add the almonds individually to each serving; they will lose their crunch if left in the main dish).

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