Boujemaa Mars, chef at the Moroccan restaurant in Marrakech's celebrated La Mamounia hotel, turns out inventions like seafood bestila and sea bass stuffed with dates, but his classical cooking, like this lamb specialty (he uses baby lamb shoulder; we've substituted shanks), is gutsy and authentic. Mhammar is Arabic for ''reddened'' i.e., browned, which these lamb shanks become after long, slow braising.

ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Pinch saffron threads
  • 8 lamb shanks
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 preserved lemon, thinly sliced
  • 8 medium waxy potatoes, peeled and halved

directions

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring constantly, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 2 minutes longer, then stir in the paprika, cumin and saffron and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add the lamb shanks, arranging in a layer on top of the onion mixture. Add enough water to cover the meat about halfway (about 4 cups), then season with 3 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, uncovered, then reduce the heat to low, partially cover the pot and simmer for 3 hours, basting and turning the shanks about every 30 minutes.

Scatter the preserved lemon slices over the meat and top with the potatoes. Cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 45 minutes, basting about every 15 minutes.

Arrange the meat and potatoes on a large serving platter. Skim and discard the fat from the sauce, pour a little sauce over the meat and potatoes and serve the remaining sauce on the side.

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Recipe reprinted by permission of World Publication, LLC. All rights reserved.

RecID 6943

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