I wanted to make something else with lamb and the golden ras el hanout, and for some reason a lamb shank, seasoned with this wonderful mixture, and slowly cooked was all I could think about. I do love lamb shanks, they have all the best characteristics of lamb : succulent, sweet, and above all, something that is missing from a lot of lamb, a good flavour.
A lamb shank stew has to be one of the best winter dishes, but just doesn't seem right in in lead up to summer (yes, it still hasn't arrived). However, with slow braising being the only way to cook a good shank, some other way of serving the meat had to evolve.
Why not turn the meat into a tortellini filling? Why not indeed! It worked so well, especially with the strained braising liquid becoming an instant sauce. Just add freshly grated parmesan and some chopped parsley!
Ras el Hanout Lamb Tortellini
To cook the lamb
1 generous lamb shank
1 Tablespoon golden ras el hanout
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup amaretto
1/4 cup white wine
Water, or a light stock
Rub the lamb shank with the ras el hanout and leave in the fridge for 24 hours for the flavours to develop. Heat a heavy based pan, only just large enough to hold the shank, with a splash of olive oil and brown the shank on all sides. Remove the shank to a plate and saute the onions until just starting to turn golden. Deglaze the pan with the amaretto and the white wine. Return the shank to the pot and add enough water to almost cover the shank and simmer gently for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and falls from the bone with a touch. Leave to cool. Remove the meat and reserve, strain the cooking juices and chill, then remove the fat, discarding the solids.
To make the filling
Meat from a lamb shank, cooked as above, chopped
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
1 teaspoon golden ras el hanout
1/4 cup fine breadcrumbs
Enough strained and degreased broth from cooking the lamb to moisten the filling
Mix all the ingredients together to make a smooth and soft filling, adjusting the amount of breadcrumbs and juice to make a good consistency.
To make the tortellini
Fresh pasta dough, made with 300g flour and 3 eggs
Roll out the pasta as thinly as possible, either with a pasta maker or with a rolling pin. Cut into 5 to 7 centimeter squares. Place a teaspoon of the filling in the centre of each, then form into tortellini by lightly moistening the edges, folding into a triangle and sealing the edges, pressing out the air. Wrap the triangle around your finger and pinch the corners together. Leave to dry for half an hour on a heavy tea towel.
Broth from cooking the lamb shank
Freshly grated parmesan
Bring a large pot of water to the boil with a generous amount of salt. Cook the tortellini, in batches if necessary, until al dente, about 2 minutes after they float. Heat the broth. Serve the tortellini in shallow bowls with some of the broth and sprinkled with parsley and parmesan.