Fighting for the last bone…

November 14th, 2009 § 0 comments

If I tell you that the scene below was immortalised one couple of Sundays ago at my dinner table, you might wonder what on earth I serve my guests for dinner for them to fight over the last bone with such rage.


Well I did too, because in less time I needed to have a bite myself that’s about all that was left of the generous pieces of full flavoured autumn lamb that won me over in the display of my beloved butcher…
Not less that one whole boned shoulder and four shanks that had been patiently simmering on my stove through the afternoon until falling of the bone, slowly but surely caramelised with the toffee like dates and delicately topped with shiny, deep pink drops of a ripe pomegranate.

Now if I tell you we were only four and there was enough for an army, this might convince you that there is something almost magic about the tajine like recipe I’m about to share with you. If not, take a look further down this post for a quick glimpse of what it looked like before landing on my dinner table or even better, check out the link to the original ‘grimoire’ from which I stole this mouth-watering spell, my favourite foodies magazine, the french ELLE a Table.

Slow-cooked lamb, dates and pomegranate

Slow cooked lamb with dates and pomegranate
Agneau confit aux dattes et a la grenade

source: Elle a Table 47 – check this link for the original recipe in french.
serves 6 pers.
prep: 10 + 15 min. rest: >1 hr cook: 2 hrs + 20 min


800 g boned lamb shoulder*, cut into medium large pieces,
4 shanks of lamb*,
500 g dates, stone removed,
1 pomegranate,
4 onions, peeled and thinly chopped,
2 cloves of garlic*, germ removed and crushed,
2 Tsp olive oil,
1 Tsp honey,
20 cl water,
tea if you use dried dates,
100 g whole almonds, peeled** (I completely forgot about those),
Fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped, to top the dish.
For the Marinade:
1 Tsp olive oil,
1 Tsp cinnamon,
1/2 tsp cumin seeds*, crushed,
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed,
2 doses saffron (~1/4 tsp)
cayenne or chili pepper to taste,
sea salt and pepper to taste,

1) Prepare the marinade:
In a large bowl, mix the meat well with all the ingredients of the marinade (do not hesitate to dive in with your hands to make sure the meat is well coated). Cover and set a side in the fridge for at least one hour.

2) In a large cocotte (dutch oven), add the rest of the olive oil, the meat and the marinade. Seize the meat on high heat until nicely coloured on all sides. Lower the heat to medium heat and add the chopped onions and crushed garlic. Toss and cook for 5 minutes or until the onions start to color slightly. Pour the water (it should just cover the meat), cover and leave to simmer on low heat for about 1h45.

3) Add the dates and honey to the cocotte, toss and leave to simmer uncovered for 20 more minutes.

4) If you remember about the almonds, grill them until slightly colored in a pan on high heat.

5) Dress the lamb, dates and sauce on a warm service dish. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and the grilled almonds and serve immediately

Bon appétit!

* the original recipe calls for: 1kg boned lamb shoulder and 500g lamb neck; 4 garlic cloves; 1 Tsp cummin; 1 Tsp cummin, powdered.
** A trick to peel almonds is to blanch them a couple of minutes in boiling water, then drain and rinse with cold water. The skin will then come off very easily.

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