Thanksgiving Eve Lamb Tagine

Day before Thanksgiving: I was walking back from Fairway today in the yucky rain/sleet/snow with heavy bags of groceries and 2 pies, and no umbrella. I complained "this is a shopping nightmare!" to anyone who would listen.  Later, when I began to write this blog, I thought about the meaning of gratitude and I suddenly remembered to be thankful that I could even afford two pies (one blueberry & one pecan) and thankful I had two arms to carry them home with.   

I still don't have an oven and, not being able to cook a turkey, I was trying to think outside the box of the usual fare but I couldn't find the Cornish game hens I was looking for so I did end up with the ubiquitous whole chicken, but what the heck.  It just means that I won't have to wrestle with the left overs and torture the dogs & cat by cooking turkey for 8 hours straight.

Having said that, I also found lamb shanks and put them on to cook at 3pm for the night before Thanksgiving dinner - Thanksgiving Eve - which isn't a holiday but feels like it ought to be one...I much prefer the calendar prior to Black Friday which brings the dreaded pressure of holiday shopping - ugh!  Uh oh, there I go again - it's all to easy to get into the mode of finding something wrong with everything.

Sometimes I CAN be that Pollyanna person, looking for the positive, and right now the apartment is filling up with a wonderful aroma of simmering lamb with herbs, spices, red wine, and onions.  Lamb Shanks are really very easy to make - although not very photogenic as they take a photograph along the lines of a drunk person in a dark bar - murky, sloppy, and suspicious looking...also there are a bazillion pictures online of lamb shanks, so I am not going to add one here.  Instead, here is a picture of my friend Olga, who is a fabulous belly dancer.

(Loose) Method of preparing Lamb Tagine:

  • In a large heavy bottom skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brown the lamb shanks on all sides.   
  • Grind fresh pepper over (I like lemon pepper)
  • Add 1/2 chopped sweet onion, 1/4 finely chopped red pepper, and saute. 
  • Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp oregano, basil, thyme, cumin, hot chili peppers, cinnamon, nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • Add 6 whole cloves garlic
  • De-glaze with 1/2 red wine
  • Add enough beef stock to cover
  • 2 dried bay leaves 
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup coffee (optional red-eye version)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes ( make sure you use the tomatoes in the carton because canned tomatoes are not very healthy for you) 
  • 1 tbls tomato paste

Simmer covered for 3 hours.  Then add:

  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup olives (not the canned version!)
  • 1 tbls cocoa powder unsweetened (first mix with in a cup with hot pan broth to blend without lumps)
  • 6 organic carrots, scrubbed & chopped
Simmer uncovered for 1 hour until the broth has reduced and become syrupy.  Taste.  Add salt if needed.  At this point, you can decide if you want to serve it with Cous Cous, mashed potatoes, polenta, or French bread - I just put a pot of water on to boil, in case I decide to serve it with egg noodles.  If you do make egg noodles, by the way, at the last minute you have to toss them with butter and finely chopped garlic.  That was my mother-in-law's recipe and I still use it. Top with Greek yogurt, if you wish.  Voila! 

Thanksgiving Eve Lamb Tagine.

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