Persian style spiced lamb shank stew

Middle Eastern spices and the richness of lamb are a marriage made in heaven so get cooking this slow cooked lamb shank stew. The flavours are fresh, warming and fragrant so, if this is new to you, this is a great way to try them. I have opted for a balance of spices such as cumin and coriander which bring dishes to life. Give yourself plenty of time for this to slow cook in the oven to allow flavours to develop.

Seeing as it’s autumn and the nights are now cold and dark, I have added colour by serving this with mixed vegetable cous cous but it would be just as delicious with saffron rice.

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Ingredients- serves 2
For the stew
Glug of vegetable oil
2 lamb shanks
1 large red onion- finely chopped
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped or sliced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/2 tbsp ground turmeric
1/2 ground cardamom
400ml tinned chopped tomatoes
300ml good quality beef stock
Handful of dried apricots- halved if large

For the cous cous
Glug of vegetable oil
200g cous cous
Approx. 300g mixed vegetables e.g. aubergine, red onion, courgette
Pinch of saffron
Fresh coriander- chopped

1. Start by preheating the oven to 140c/ 120 fan. Take a large pan with a well fitting lid and add a glug of oil over a medium to high heat. You need to brown off the lamb shanks so they are golden all over; this will add to the flavour later so don’t rush this. Make sure they are golden all over and remove from the pan; set aside.

2. If you find a lot of fat has come out of the lamb shanks then drain a little off so you have around 1 tbsp left. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onion and garlic until they soften but not colour. I add a pinch of sea salt at this stage to season but do remember to check the seasoning as you go and adjust to taste. Add in the spices and cook for a further minute or two. Stir to ensure that they spices coat all the onion well.

3. Pour in the tomatoes and stock before adding the shanks back to the pan. Bring to a gentle boil before covering with the lid and placing in the preheated oven. Cook on a low heat for 2 1/2- 3 hours; when the lamb is ready it will come away from the bone really easily. At 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time the apricots need to be added; if they are put in at the start they will disintegrate but if you put them in near the end they add a wonderful sweetness.

4. When you are nearly ready to eat, start making the cous cous. This could not be easier! Take the vegetables you have chosen and dice so they are in pieces that are easy to mix through the cous cous. Add a small amount of oil in a pan and gently cook the vegetables. Vegetables such as onion, squash and aubergine go well with the richness of the lamb. Season and remove from the heat. For the cous cous, boil a kettle and, in a measuring jug, add some water and the strands of saffron. Pout over the cous cous to cover it and place a tea towel over the top to allow the cous cous to absorb the water. Fluff with a fork and add a drop more water if you need. Toss through the vegetables, a liberal sprinkling of chopped fresh coriander and it is ready to serve with tender lamb.

Delicately fragrant Persian style spiced lamb shank stew- a true winter warmer!

 

 

 

 

 

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Indulgent lobster and saffron cream garganelli

Most people would reach for the perennial classic, linguine, when they are making a seafood based pasta however this recipe uses garganelli instead. Garganelli are small quills with delicate ridges which hold a rich creamy pasta sauce beautifully.  I bought mine from my local Italian deli, Buongiorno Italia, which is a must visit if you ever find yourselves in St Albans- www.buongiornoitalia.co.uk. I challenge you to only buy what you intended in there and nothing more!

To make this recipe accessible I used one lobster tail per person however two would be fabulous if you have a few extra pennies going spare or of course a whole lobster. This lobster tail pasta is indulgent and extravagant but worth the effort so read on…

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Ingredients- serves 2
200g garganelli pasta
2 lobster tails- shell removed and kept whole
1 garlic clove- crushed
100ml white wine (or champagne!)
100ml double cream
Pinch of saffron
Small handful of flat leaf parsley- finely chopped
Olive oil
Knob of unsalted butter
Salt and pepper to season

1. Start off by bringing a pan of water up to the boil and cooking the garganelli until al dente; drain well.

2. Whilst that is cooking away, take a large frying pan, heat to medium and add a glug of oil plus a knob of butter. Pop in the lobster tails, cover the pan with a lid and cook for a few minutes until tender. I like to baste the lobster with the butter whilst it is cooking from time to time too. Remove the lobster from the pan, allow to cool until you can handle it and chop the meat into pieces.

3. Using the same frying pan, add in the garlic and cook for a minute before adding the wine. Simmer and reduce the wine by half before adding the cream and saffron. Stir well to ensure the saffron colours the cream evenly. Season to taste before adding the lobster pieces back into the pan. Gently warm through and toss with the garganelli before adding a sprinkle of parsley.

Lobster and delicate saffron cream garganelli- treat yourself to a little luxury!