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Lamb Tagine with Prunes

3 lb Lamb shanks, sawed into 1 -inch pieces
3 md Onions, one peeled and grated, two peeled and thickly sliced
3 ts Ras El Hanout, plus more to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper
1 tb Plus 1 t unsalted butter
Large pinch of saffron
3 c Water
1 Cinnamon stick
1 ts Olive oil
2 ts Sugar
1/2 c Canned crushed tomatoes
1 c Canned chick-peas
3 c Pumpkin or butternut squash chunks
3/4 c Pitted prunes, halved
Harissa Sauce (separate recipe follows)
Lavash or pita bread


1. Coat lamb with grated onion, ras el hanout, and salt and pepper. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Melt 1 T butter in a wide, heavy-bottomed pan. Add meat and brown lightly on all sides. Add saffron, water, and cinnamon stick; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 1/2 hours.

2. Let cool slightly and remove shanks. Pull meat from bones, keeping pieces as large as possible; discard fat, gristle, and bones. Season with salt and pepper. Skim fat from liquid, or refrigerate overnight and remove fat. Refrigerate meat.

3. In a medium saute pan, heat 1 t butter and 1 t oil. Add sliced onions and sprinkle with sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat for 15 minutes, tossing or stirring only when brown. Turn heat to low and cook until onions are very soft and brown, about zo more minutes.

4. Add tomatoes and cooking liquid from the lamb and bring to a boil. Add meat, chick-peas, and pumpkin or squash and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove lid, stir in prunes, and simmer until thick, about 15 to 20 more minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste. Serve immediately with harissa sauce and lavash or pita bread.


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