Tagine of Braised Lamb Shanks with Dates,
Ginger and Toasted Almonds

Makes 4 servings

For the spice mix:
1 1/2 teaspoons Jordan zahtar
1 teaspoon ras al hanhout
1 teaspoon hot paprika
1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix all of the ingredients together.

For the Jamison lamb shanks:
2 tablespoons extra-vrigin olive oil
4 Jamison lamb hind shanks, about 3 pounds total
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 piece gingerroot, about 2 inches long, peeled and sliced
salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste 1 tomato
1 tablespoon flour
3 cups unsalted veal or lamb stock, or low-sodium beef broth
2 sprigs thyme
2 Earl Grey tea bags
8 dates, pitted

1) Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2) Warm the olive oil in a roasting pan over high heat. Season the lamb shanks all over with some of the spice mix. When the oil is very hot, add the lamb shanks and brown well on all sides, about 20 minutes total. Transfer the lamb to a plate for the moment and lower the heat under the roasting pan.

3) Add the onion, carrot, garlic and ginger to the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are lightly browned. Stir in the tomato paste and tomato and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the flour and cook, still stirring, for 1 minute. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, pour in the stock and add the thyme. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid or a piece of parchment paper and transfer the pan to the oven. Braise, basting every 20 minutes or so, for 2-2 1/2 hours until very tender.

4) Bring 2 cups of water to a boil, remove from the heat and add the tea bags. Cover and infuse for 10 minutes and then discard the tea bags. Soak the dates in the tea for 5 minutes until they are soft. Drain the dates, reserving the tea for later use. Press the dates through a sieve to obtain a sweet purée.

5) When the lamb is finished braising, stir in the date purée. Transfer the lamb shanks to a warm platter and place the roasting pan over high heat. Reduce the liquid by half, season with some of the spice mixture, salt and pepper and then strain over the lamb shanks.

For the garnish:
24 prunes
2 tablespoons white raisins
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
reserved tea
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 fresh artichoke hearts, cleaned and each cut into 8 wedges
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced on the bias 1/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons toasted sliced almonds

1) Rehydrate the prunes and raisins in the reserved tea. Drain and then roll the prunes in the sesame seeds.

2) Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the artichokes, onions and carrots, season with some of the spice mixture and cook, stirring regularly, for 6-8 minutes until the vegetables are well caramelized and the artichokes are fork tender.

To serve:
Put the caramelized vegetable mixture on the bottom of 4 warm tagines and top with the lamb shanks. Spoon the sauce over the lamb and garnish with the raisins, sesame-coated prunes and toasted almonds.