Moroccan Shredded Lamb with Chickpea Rice Pilaf

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 3 1/2 hours
Total time: about 4 hours
Servings: 6-8
Cuisine: Moroccan/Middle Eastern
Recipe Info

I can’t say with certainty that this is authentic because it’s a recipe I found. But it uses classic Middle Eastern ingredients, so possibly it is! The lamb is really juicy because it’s made with lamb shoulder, a cut that is made for slow cooking. The pan frying step to get the crunchy brown bits is not optional – it’s key! As with any shredded meat recipe, a little goes a long way. This makes around 8 cups of shredded lamb which I think is enough to serve 8 people as a main (with rice). See separate recipe below for Chickpea Rice Pilaf.

Ingredients for Moroccan Shredded Lamb:
Spice Mix:
1 ½ T ground cumin
1 ½ T ground coriander
1 ½ T paprika
2 t ground cardamon
1 T salt
Black pepper to taste

Slow Roasted Lamb:
3 tbsp olive oil
3 garlic cloves minced
1.5 – 2 kg / 3 – 4 lb lamb shoulder bone in, trimmed of excess fat
3/4 cup water

To Serve:
1 – 2 tbsp olive oil
Lemon highly recommended
Fresh coriander/cilantro leaves, optional – recommended
Yogurt, optional

Preheat oven to 150C/300F. Combine the Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside 1 ½ tbsp of the Spice Mix for later (to pan fry the lamb). Add the olive oil, and garlic into the Spice Mix, then rub all over the lamb. Place the lamb on a roasting rack set in a roasting dish (Note 1). Pour the water in the base of the dish. Cover with a lid or double layer of foil. Roast for 3 ½ hours or until the meat is tender enough to pull off with a fork. Remove the lid. Turn the oven up as high as it will go and roast for 15 – 20 minutes until the lamb is browned. Remove the lamb from the oven. Allow to rest for 20 minutes, then shred coarsely with two forks. Skim excess fat off the juices in the roasting dish then set aside. (Note 2)

Browning the Shredded Lamb:
Toss the shredded lamb with the reserved Spice Mix (from Step 2 above). Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a heavy based pan over high heat. Add some lamb (don’t crowd the pan) and drizzle over about 3 tbsp of the pan juices. Cook until the underside is dark golden brown and crispy – about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes (the juices you poured over will evaporate). If the lamb is cold, flip to warm the other side but do not brown too much (retains juiciness). Remove lamb from the fry pan, and repeat with remaining lamb, adding extra oil if required. To serve, drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice (this makes a big difference) and top with fresh coriander, plus yogurt (if using). Serve on Chickpea Pilaf (Rice).

Recipe Notes:
– You can use a couple of onions, halved, to elevate the lamb if you don’t have a rack for your roasting dish.
– If making ahead, stop at this step. Allow the shredded lamb to cool then divide into serving size portions and freeze in ziplock bags. Store the liquid separately, also in serving size portions.
– SLOW COOKER instructions: I prefer making this in the oven because the lamb gets a better crust but it can be made in the slow cooker too. The pan frying makes up for the browning you don’t get. To make this in a slow cooker, slow cook on HIGH for 6 hours and only use 1/4 cup water. No need to elevate the lamb off the base.

Ingredients for Chickpea Rice Pilaf:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2-3 garlic cloves minced
1 ½ cups long grain rice, or basmati
2 cans of chickpeas 800g/28oz, drained
2 ½ cups water
2 t cumin powder
2 t coriander powder
2 t garam masala powder, or 1 t curry powder, ½ t coriander + ½ t all spice)
1 t salt
Black pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is translucent – around 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until the rice becomes translucent, coated with the oil. Add remaining ingredients. Place the lid on and bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the stove, leaving the lid on, and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice up with a fork and serve with the Moroccan Shredded Lamb.

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