Sit down, make yourself comfortable, I have a story to tell. I found this recipe sitting in my inbox (from me, no less) with the label "Recipes" attached to it. That was great and all, except I didn't recollect reading this recipe or emailing it to myself. It's from Blue-Kitchen which is a new food blog to me. It's a very good one, by the way. Somehow, I led myself to discover this wonderful dish without knowing it. Thank you, past me, you were great!
I had a bag of dried chickpeas from the Dixon fruit stand on the side of I-80. I remember deciding to stop by the fruit stand one weekend while I was driving toward Sacramento. Reason? None! Not only that, I was in my pajamas from the night before. Yes, I like to drive long distance in my pajamas. So, I stealthily stripped off my pajamas in the parking lot and pulled on some jeans and a hoodie from the laundry basket in the back seat before heading to the fruit stand. Somewhere in the sky, a dramatic baritone voice said "She's the epitome of class. Yes, she is."
And that was the story of how I started to make this dish, a recipe from a sleep-walking recipe search (or something along that line) and the chickpeas from a randomly classy act on the I-80.
Wait, I have another super short story. I only had lamb shanks because I planned to make palak gosht but that didn't happened. A quick scan down to the bottom of the Moroccan lamb chops recipe, I saw leg of lamb with Moroccan spice rub recipe. Close enough! I screamed and used that one instead.
I know the spice list looks a bit intimidating, but here is what I used in picture form. I didn't have saffron (fuck that, I'm not fancy!), five-spice powder, and parsley. By shear laziness and cheapness, I decided to omit parsley and saffron. If you look closely, you can tell that I'm right-handed. Notice how all of the powder are spilled toward the left? You're welcome for this free detective lesson! Or, I could be left handed and decided to flip the photo upside down to trick you (look at the turmeric, it's an anomaly)! Oh ho ho ho.
But, what did you do about the five-spice powder? You ask. If you search for what made up five-spice powder, you will find that it is star anise, cloves, cinnamon (checked!), Sichuan pepper (ground pepper will do), and ground fennel seeds. At the lower right corner of the photo, you will see that I had cloves, star anise, and fennel seeds. The set was complete!
The whole spice thing got roasted on medium heat without oil for about 5 minutes. Helen was nice enough to let me borrow her brand new stone mortar and pestle! It was so pretty and new. I ruined it by smashing all sort staining spices (ahem *cough* turmeric *cough*) in it.
As you can see, I ground up those spice pretty well with about 4 large garlic cloves. The key here is to save about 1 tablespoon of this spice mixture for the chickpeas. When I was cooking, I completely forgot about it and used up all of the spices so I had to remake the spice mixture.
I prepared two lamb shanks with bones total about 2.5 lbs with a large gallon Ziplock bag. Before making a mess, I seasoned both sides of the shanks with some sea salt (about 1/2 teaspoons). After that, it was a party in the Ziplock bag with the shanks, the spice rub, and juice from 1/2 of a lemon! And by party I mean: dump everything into the bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, zip up bag, and massage away.
Leave that whole thing to chill in the fridge over night. It'll thank you.
If you are using dried chickpeas and not a 15 oz. cooked can, do this: soak 3/4 cup of dried chickpeas in water overnight.
If you are using a 15 oz can of cooked chickpeas, skip steps 1 and 2.
1. Rinse and drain soaked chickpeas.
2. Cook chickpeas until tender. It took me a good 45 minutes. Rinse and drain.
3. In a large pot, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/2 large onion, chopped. Stir around and let it cook until the onion is all translucent.
4. Add 1 tablespoon of ground up spices and stir until everything is well mixed.
5. Add 1 can of stewed tomatoes (14.5 oz) and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth.
6. Add the chickpeas, stir, and cook for 20 minutes on medium low heat.
While the peas are cooking, you should preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. La di da. If you have a rack with a roasting pan, you are totally awesome! If you are like me and don't have one, steal a rack (oven safe) from the toaster oven and place that over a dutch oven*.
The recipe said to roast the lamb for 15 - 20 minutes for every pound. I roasted mine for a total of 30 minutes because I didn't have one single leg of lamb, but two separate lamb shanks. I flipped them over half way through.
I had an accident involving fire with this lamb, so be careful. It was a happy accident, though. For the last 3 minutes, I decided to switch my oven to broil trying to char the outer skin. What I didn't think about was that my lamb shanks were sitting very close to the broil wires (because I was ghetto and hoisted the whole rack on top of a dutch oven). The result was that the shanks caught on fire! Don't worry, I was a pro and beat the hell out of the fire. That got me my desired result of a charred skin.*
I served the lamb with chickpeas topped with some cilantro for garnish. The boyfriend brought over some duck fried rice and we ate the lamb with that, too.
The duck fried rice was delicious but that was way beyond my skills.
I hope you will enjoy making this delicious meal and don't get too annoyed with my walls of text.
*Note: Maybe you shouldn't be so dangerous like me with the dutch oven and broiling stunt. Be smart, don't be like me!