This recipe is probably Arabic in nature. Which means its original providence is Persia, or modern day Iraq. In the seventh century, Muslim armies conquered Persia, and the Arabs moved their capital from Damascus in Syria to Baghdad, the heart of the former Persian empire. And thus began the great change in Arabic cooking. The desert Arabs had subsisted on sheep’s milk, barley, mutton and dates. In contrast, the caliphs of Baghdad enjoyed truffles from the Arabian Desert, cakes from Egypt and couscous from North Africa. Arab cooking underwent a transformation. Now they were dining on spices from India and China, apples from Syria, raisins from Jerusalem. and exotic fruits, such as apricots, from Central Asia. And this all went into their dishes. This, in turn, was transferred to Spain with their conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. Eventually, this was co-opted by the Crusaders, who took it back to Europe, and introduced strange and fascinating new recipes from the Holy Land.
Which leads to the current recipe listed. A round-about historical perspective, I admit, but a damn good meal for any occasion. And one which I know you will enjoy.
LAMB SHANKS WITH APRICOTS
4 lamb shanks
1/2 cup flour
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup sliced dried apricots
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Rinse lamb shanks under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
2. In a plate, combine the flour with the salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder. Dredge the shanks in the flour.
3. Heat olive oil over moderate heat in a large pan or skillet. Add shanks and brown on all sides.
4. Add chicken broth, cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
5. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and cook for 3 minutes. Lower heat, cover and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. or until shanks are tender.
Yield: 4 servings.