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Slow-Cooker Lamb Shanks and Couscous

Al Roker makes slow-cooker lamb shank with herbed couscous
Samantha Okazaki / TODAY
6 servings

Chef notes

I really love lamb and braised meat in general, so this is a favorite. This slow-cooker meal is one I make for my family on Sundays. It's perfect because you can prep in the morning, spend time with the family and then have a finished meal waiting for you eight hours later. 

Personally, I love anchovies. I know a lot of people are turned off by them, but they add great umami flavor. Don't worry — you won't taste anything fishy in this dish!


Slow-cooker lamb shanks
  • 6 lamb foreshanks
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup celery, finely diced
  • 1 cup carrot, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, tied in twine bundle
  • 8 green peppercorns
  • 4 anchovy filets, minced to a paste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups red wine
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 5 cups of beef broth
Herbed couscous
  • 3 cups pearl couscous
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • cups chopped fresh herbs (combination of mint, oregano, chives, parsley)
  • 1 cups roasted red peppers diced
  • 1 cup of golden raisins
  • 1 cup of toasted pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


For the lamb shanks:


Season shanks both sides with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in large saute pan, over medium high heat. Brown lamb shanks on all sides. Remove to separate plate.


In same pan, heat another 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add anchovy, garlic, peppercorns, tomato paste and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Then add wine, sugar and vinegar and bring to a boil. Cook for about 4 minutes to get rid of alcohol.


Add browned shanks to slow cooker, then add vegetable mixture on top. Place rosemary bundle inside. Pour in 5 cups of beef broth. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. If the liquid gets low during cooking, just add a little water. After the shanks are cooked, if the sauce is too thin for your taste, remove shanks and reduce sauce on stovetop.


While the shanks are cooking, make the couscous.

For the couscous:

In large pot, bring 8 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt to boil. Add couscous and cook until tender, about 8 minutes, then drain

While couscous is cooking, make vinaigrette. In a bowl, mix the oil, honey, mustard, lemon zest and juice. Season with salt and pepper. Drain cooked couscous, and add to a large bowl. Pour dressing in and mix well. Then add fresh herbs, red peppers, raisins, pine nuts. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Enjoy warm or refrigerate and serve with lamb shanks.