One of the great things about being a “New American” restaurant is that we are able to learn from and borrow different flavor profiles and cooking methods from cuisines all over the world. Here, we take a common spice from Morocco, ras el hanout, to give lamb a nice, complex spice note. Because of their natural sugars, roasting carrots and parsnips brings out even more of the natural sweetness and savoriness of the vegetables and starts the maillard reaction (chef-speak describing how amino acids react with reduced sugars from browning or roasting food—it’s what gives seared meat that delicious savoriness or “meatiness”).
As a chef, you continue to change your voice. Three years ago, I achieved complexity by having a lot of different components in every dish. This dish shows how we’re approaching our menus now: paring back our ingredient lists and really mining the flavor of each ingredient. The savoriness of the lamb shank, the earthiness of the roasted chickpeas, the sweet-savoriness of the roasted vegetables, and the crunchy sweetness of the carrot ribbons is what makes this a great simple dish. The carrot ribbons, though unusual, add that perfect crunchy surprise that elevates this to a truly memorable meal.
Blend all ingredients together in spice grinder. Makes 3 to 4 tablespoons.
Heat a small sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon ras el hanout and toast, shaking the pan continuously, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Heat a large, Dutch oven over high heat; add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Season the lamb shanks with salt. Working in batches as needed, sear the lamb shanks until browned all over, 8 to 12 minutes per side.
Remove the shanks from the pot and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the toasted ras el hanout, chopped onion, carrots, parsnips, garlic, and olives to the pot. Cook, stirring, until the carrots and parsnips are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the red wine.
Strain the braising liquid and return to the pot. Reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until it coats the back of a spoon, 30 to 45 minutes.
While the meat is braising, heat a medium saute pan over medium heat; add the olive oil. Add the diced onion, minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon ras el hanout and cook until the onion is translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chickpeas and coat with the mixture. Spread the chickpeas out onto a baking sheet and
Transfer to a food processor or blender and pulse, adding enough olive oil or reduced braising liquid, until the mixture resembles a chunky hummus. Season to taste with salt and lemon juice.
Heat 2 inches of canola oil to 350°F in a medium saucepan. Clean and dry the baby carrots. Use a vegetable peeler to peel thin ribbons of carrot, until you get down to a thin triangle. Discard the triangle. Fry the ribbons in the oil until the golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oil with slotted spoon. The ribbons won’t be crispy initially but will crisp as they cool. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.
Spoon the chickpea mash onto serving plates, top with the lamb shanks, and then the fried carrots if using. Drizzle the shank and mash with the reduced braising liquid.