Fragrant lamb with prunes and almonds
Although lamb shanks have become chic and expensive, you could easily make this tagine with boneless lamb shoulder cut into chunks to keep the cost low. It's just as delicious.
2.5kg of lamb shanks, or 1.8kg of boneless lamb shoulder, trimmed of fat
2 tbsp butter
2 medium onions, thickly sliced
Pinch of saffron threads
6 garlic cloves, chopped
A thumb-size piece of ginger, peeled and slivered
1 small cinnamon stick
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp ground ginger
1-2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
150g golden raisins
300g pitted prunes
750ml chicken broth or water
300g chopped tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
For the garnish
1 tbsp butter
200g blanched whole almonds
Large pinch of salt
Small pinch of sugar
1 Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 3. Season the lamb generously with salt and pepper, then set aside.
2 Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt and crumble the saffron on top. Sweat the onions gently for about 5 minutes or until slightly softened. Remove from the heat and stir in the garlic, fresh ginger, cinnamon stick, coriander and cumin seeds, powdered ginger and cayenne pepper. Add the raisins and half the prunes.
3 Put the lamb in a deep casserole and spread the onion mixture over the meat. Add the broth or water and tomatoes, and cover the pot with foil and a tight-fitting lid. Bake for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender.
4 Take the dish from the oven and remove the foil and lid. Add the rest of the prunes and submerge them in the liquid. Raise the heat to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and return the lamb to the oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes to let the meat brown a bit. Remove the pot from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes or so.
5 Skim off any fat from the surface of the tagine. Reduce the sauce if it seems thin. The tagine is ready to serve but will reheat perfectly, so you can make it today to serve the next day: the sauce will mature beautifully in the refrigerator overnight.
6 Just before you serve the tagine, heat the butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat and gently fry the almonds, stirring occasionally. When they turn golden, dry them on a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and sugar.