Lamb and Apricot Tagine with Almond Couscous

Serves 8

2 pounds tomatoes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5 pounds lamb shanks or lamb stew meat, cut in half crosswise
Kosher salt
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
2 cups dry red wine
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus leaves for garnish
3/4 pound dried apricots
1/4 cup honey
One 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained

2 cups couscous
4 cups chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Kosher salt
2/3 cup chopped roasted almonds
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

For the tagine: Score an X on the bottom of each tomato. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the tomatoes just until the skins shrivel, about 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes and let cool slightly, then peel and finely chop.

In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat, turning, until golden brown all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a baking sheet.

Add the onion, carrots, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and cinnamon sticks to the pot and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the onion is golden and softened, about 8 minutes. Add the lamb shanks and wine. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stock, parsley and cilantro and return to a simmer. Cover and cook gently until the lamb is almost tender, about 1½ hours (approximately 1 hour for lamb stew meat). Add the apricots and honey to the tagine and cook until the lamb is very 
tender, about 30 minutes longer. Discard the cinnamon sticks. Stir in the chickpeas and season with salt and pepper.

For the couscous: 
Put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Pour the hot stock over the couscous and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until all the stock has been absorbed and the couscous is tender, about 30 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork 
and stir in the almonds and parsley.

Sprinkle the lamb tagine with cilantro and serve with the couscous.

The lamb tagine and couscous can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. Stir the almonds and parsley into the couscous just before serving

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