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Sunday Dinner: Algerian Lamb Shanks with Cardamom and Orange

As a kid I was exposed to a lot of interesting foods, but for some reason I never had lamb until I was in college. These days it's one of my favorite meats, I absolutely love the sweet yet gamey taste it has. So whenever I think of slow roasted meats, my mind immediately leaps to lamb, especially since it really holds up nicely against a variety of spices, such as saffron, cardamom and curry. For tonight's Sunday Dinner I thought I'd present a recipe for Algerian Lamb Shanks with Cardamom. I am super excited to give this recipe a try - if it sounds like a good idea to you,

Algerian Lamb Shanks with Cardamom and Orange
From Williams-Sonoma

4 lamb shanks, external fat trimmed
Salt, to taste, plus 1 Tbs. salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
for serving
1 lb. yellow onions, diced
1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves
1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
2 cardamom seeds, skins removed
Pinch of saffron
1 tsp. chili flakes
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. caraway seeds
2 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 cinnamon stick
2 Tbs. curry powder
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 cans (10 oz. each) diced plum tomatoes
1 bottle white wine
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 lb. carrots, peeled and coarsely diced
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and
coarsely diced

  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F.
  2. Generously season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In an ovenproof deep sauté pan or Dutch oven over high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil until nearly smoking. Working in batches, brown the shanks, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter.
  3. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil, the onions and garlic to the pan and sauté, stirring, until the onions are tender and translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the ginger, cardamom, saffron, chili flakes, cloves, caraway, fennel seeds, cinnamon, curry, the 1 Tbs. salt, almonds and raisins. Sauté, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes more. Add the tomatoes, wine, orange zest and orange juice and stir to mix well. Submerge the shanks in the liquid and bring to a simmer. Cover, transfer the pan to the oven and cook until the meat nearly falls off the bone, about 2 hours.
  4. Stir the carrots and fennel bulb into the stew, cover and bake until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes more. Drizzle each serving with olive oil. Serves 4.
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