Tanjia of Lamb Shanks with Saffron & Cumin
2 Large Preserved Lemons
1 Large Onion, Coarsely Chopped
8 Medium Cloves Garlic, Coarsely Chopped
1 TBSP Cumin Seeds, toasted in dry skillet for 30 seconds, then ground
1 TBSP Ras el Hanout Spice Blend
1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more for garnish
3 TBSP coarsly chopped Cilantro
6 Lamb Shanks (about 8 to 9 pounds) - May use Beef instead
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Pinch of Saffron Threads, soaked in 6 Tablespoons of Hot Water for 20 minutes
2 TBSP Smen - may use Ghee instead
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel ONE of the preserved lemons and discard the inner flesh. Combine with onion, garlic, spices, olive oil and cilantro in the food processor. Pulse until a coarse paste is formed.
Place the meat shanks in the extra large Tanjia vessel and season well with salt and pepper. Pour (or spread) the paste over the meat, add the saffron and its water and the smen. Cover with the 2nd lemon.
Cut a circle of parchment paper, using the lid of the tanjia pot as a template. Cover the opening of the tanjia pot with this paper, then cover tightly with a layer of aluminum foil and press the lid firmly on top.
Place the tanjia in the oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 275 degrees. Cook for 4 to 5 1/2 hours (after 4 1/2 hours cooking liquid will form). The meat should be beyond stringiness - just butter soft and tender.
Serve with dense Moroccan or Italian bread. Six Servings.