LAMB SHANKS MARRAKESH WITH SAFFRON RISOTTO

LAMB SHANKS, LIKE PORK BELLY AND SHORT RIBS, HAVE BECOME A FIXTURE ON RESTAURANT MENUS.  NOT WITHOUT REASON.  ALL ARE CHEAP CUTS WHICH LEND THEMSELVES TO SLOW COOKING.  AND UNLESS YOU COOK THEM TO DEATH, THEY ARE NEARLY FOOLPROOF.  THE CLASSIC LAMB SHANKS ARE BRAISED WITH RED WINE, AROMATICS, HERBS DE PROVENCE, STOCK AND TOMATOES.  BUT I DECIDED ON A MIDDLE-EASTERN TACK, USING CORIANDER, CARDAMOM, CUMIN, AND FENNEL SEED IN PLACE OF THYME, ROSEMARY AND OREGANO.  I ALWAYS KEEP A JAR OF PRESERVED LEMONS IN THE FRIDGE.  THEIR INTENSE SALTY-SOURNESS IS A LOVELY COUNTERPOINT TO THE RICH SWEETNESS OF THE BRAISED LAMB.  I PAIRED THE SHANKS WITH SAFFRON RISOTTO WITH LEEKS AND FENNEL, BUT YOU CAN MAKE PLAIN RICE OR ORZO.  IF YOU’RE DESPERATE TO TRY THIS RECIPE BUT DON’T HAVE ANY PRESERVED LEMONS HANDY, SUBSTITUTE FRESH LEMON WEDGES.  I ADVISE PATIENCE. THOSE PRESERVED LEMONS ARE WHAT MAKE THIS DISH UNIQUE.  THEY’RE WORTH WAITING FOR.  (NOTE:  THE RISOTTO RECIPE IS ALSO LISTED SEPARATELY UNDER PASTA AND RICE.
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