Photo by David Loftus
This recipe is extracted from my new book, Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook, you can order your copy here.
Pilaf is a truly global dish, eaten everywhere from India to the Caribbean – my version has pistachios, which are popular in the Middle East and complement the cherries in the marinade.
Middle Eastern cherry lamb shanks with pilaf
3tbsp plain flour 1tsp each sea salt and ground black pepper 4 lamb shanks (about 350g/12oz each) 1-2tbsp olive oil 400ml (14fl oz) red wine, such as pinot noir or Beaujolais 600ml (1pt) chicken stock 2 x 440g tins stoneless cherries, drained 300g (10½oz) basmati rice 50g (1¾oz) butter 1 onion, finely chopped 50g (1¾oz) pistachios, roughly chopped 2 sticks of celery, finely chopped 1 large carrot (about 200g/7oz), peeled and finely chopped 2tsp cornflour 2tbsp water A handful of finely chopped fresh parsley Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl and add the lamb shanks, dusting each one well in the flour.
Pour the oil into a large lidded ovenproof casserole pan over a medium heat and brown the shanks in batches. Pour in the wine, stock and one of the tins of cherries. Bring everything up to the boil, cover and put in the oven for 2 hours, or until the meat feels tender when poked with a knife. Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes.
Twenty-five minutes before the lamb is ready, start to make the pilaf. Rinse the rice in water, drain, then repeat 3 times. Cook the rice in a large pan of boiling salted water for 5 minutes and drain well. Meanwhile, put the butter into a large lidded non-stick frying pan on a medium-low heat.
Add the onion, pistachios, celery and carrot; fry gently for 10-15 minutes, or until they soften, then stir in the par-cooked rice and season with salt. Wrap the lid of the pan in a clean tea towel and place on top (the tea towel will absorb moisture so the rice stays crispy). Cook for 25 minutes on a very low heat – you want the rice to crisp up on the base of the pan.
Mix the cornflour and water to a smooth paste in a bowl. Remove the lamb shanks to a plate and wrap in foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce through a sieve into a jug to remove the cherries; reserve them. Pour the sauce into a large pan, skim off the fat with a spoon and whisk in the diluted cornflour.
Bring to a simmer and continue to whisk for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce coats the back of the spoon and becomes glossy. Season with lots of pepper, and salt if needed. Put the cherries back into the sauce, along with the second tin of cherries, and warm through.
To serve, fluff up the pilaf with a fork and toss in the parsley and lemon zest. Divide between plates, place a shank on each plate and pour over some cherry sauce and cherries.
If you liked this recipe, try making this delicious Osso Bucco over on my new project Khoollect.
100% of proceeds donated to women’s aid