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Lamb Shanks with Dried Apricots

This is a recipe I adapted for the slow cooker from a braising recipe my friend Amy gave me. I like to serve it over couscous or polenta with a green salad on the side.

Serves 12

6 pounds lamb shanks, trimmed of visible fat and silver skin

8 tablespoons olive oil

2 large onions, sliced

2 large carrots, peeled and chopped or 16 baby carrots, chopped in thirds

2 cups pitted dried apricots or other fruit such as raisins or prunes

2 large heads of garlic, halved horizontally

1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds from about 10 crushed green pods

5 cups chicken or beef stock

Sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers and brown lamb on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes.

Set lamb aside on a jellyroll pan to catch the drips. Spoon off any visible fat.

Saute onions and carrots for about 5 minutes over medium heat in the same pan you used to brown the shanks. Add the fruit, garlic and cardamom to the pan, stirring, and cook for about two minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil.

Pour the stock, vegetables and fruit into the slow cooker and carefully place the shanks on top.

Set slow cooker for 8 hours on low.

Within an hour of serving, turn cooker off, take out shanks to cool on a cutting board and spoon the fat off the top of the pot. If desired, shred the meat off the bones with two forks — it should come off very easily — and place the meat back in the pot with the sauce. Discard the bones or reserve for lamb stock, storing in a plastic bag in the freezer.

Turn the pot back on to low or warm until ready to serve.

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