Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Chambar Moroccan Lamb Shank & Couscous

What a pleasant surprise to open up the 24hour on my morning commute to find three-star-Michelin-trained chef Nico Schuermans Moroccan Lamb recipe! His restaurant Chambar is one of my favorite spots to dine in the city and I frequent this spot any chance I have an excuse to have an excellent night out. Menu items to live for include the sumptuous Spiced Foie gras terrine with Port reduction, Kriek granita & truffled brioche french toast; the mussels congolaise served in a steaming pot of tomato coconut cream sauces topped with chilies, lime and fresh cilantro, served with an elegant little side of fries to go along with the Belgian tradition; and the aromatic Morroccan braised lamb shank with honey, figs, cinnamon & cilantro, served with cous cous and zalouk.
My junket to replicate this dish began by picking up some tender lamb shanks from the acclaimed Armandos finest quality meats on Granville Island, then by garnering some fresh herbs from the market and obtaining all the dried ingriedents in bulk from Price Mart since they are more reasonably priced than anything you will get on island. I was especially excited to make this since there are so many healthy ingredients in the recipe including Turmeric particularly, which supports healthy joint function, promotes radiant skin and improves digestion.
The metric measurements published in the article were unfamiliar to me in the kitchen, so hollering over to my partner to keep looking up conversions for me as I went along was quite helpful. I was feeling pressed, since I didn't notice this dish had just over 2 hours of preparation and cooking time with my guests to arrive in an hour and a half. As the clock ticked and the preheat buzzer entreated Moroccan lamb aromas in the oven I ended up just throwing in whatever amounts I desired, which turned out to maintain a palate pleasing balance. 
This was my first time making cous cous and after making it I was wondering what had taken me so long, since it was so much easier to make than rice and added such a charming ethnic twist to the dish. 
Thinking it would be nice to have both a glass of wine with some sort of sparking beverage I grabbed some grapes and sparkling elderberry water from the regular grocery store and placed them in the freezer as I cooked. When dinner was served I simply poured the sparking elderberry water  into some lovely 80's cobalt blue goblets from grandma, then tossed in some frozen grapes and ripped mint leaves to tie it in with the meal.
This epicurean dish was surprisingly easier to make than I anticipated and the result was sensational! 

Chambar’s Moroccan

Lamb Shank

2 lbs 1 1/2-inch Lamb Shank

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil

2 tsp Coriander Seed, crushed

50g Red Onion, diced (1/2 cup)

40g Fresh Ginger, minced (1/3 cup)

30g Turmeric (1/4 cup)

2 Garlic Cloves, minced

100 ml Honey (just over 1/3 cup)

1 Cinnamon Stick

4 cups Water, use more if needed

Pinch Crushed Chilies

Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat vegetable oil in a two-quart saucepan over

medium-high heat.

Season the shanks with salt and pepper and then

place them in the saucepan, searing the

meat until they are evenly browned on all sides.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Add the onions, garlic, ginger, water, honey, and

the remaining spices.

Partially cover the lamb shanks and bring to a


Cover saucepan with a lid and place in the preheated

oven and cook until the lamb is very tender, about 2 hours.

Serve with couscous.

Making use of a tagine

adds an authentic

Moroccan touch to your


Moroccan Couscous

100g Couscous (1 cup)

160 ml Water (2/3 cup)

1 tbsp Sliced Almonds, toasted

2 tbsp Dried Apricot, cut into strips

2 tbsp Raisins

2 tsp Sunflower Seeds, toasted

2 tsp Turmeric

2 tsp Green Onion, sliced

2 tsp Mint, chopped

2 tsp Olive Oil

1 tsp Salt

Place the couscous, salt,olive oil, and turmeric into a bowl. 

Bring water to a boil and add the water to the couscous and tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Allow the mixture to rest for 5-10 minutes then stir

in the remaining ingredients.

Serve warm

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