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Lamb Shank Mafé & Rof Gremolata

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June 18, 2017 by Chef Pierre Thiam

Lamb shanks slowly simmered in peanut sauce are to me the image of comfort food in Senegal, especially when served with steamed rice, couscous, or fonio. I must thank Jenn Sit for the idea of topping the shank with a gremolata just as the Milanese people would do. This gremolata recipe is a twist on our traditional rof, the parsley mixture we use to stuff the fish in thiebou jenn, our national dish of fish on rice. The heat from the Scotch bonnet and brightness of the lemon zest brilliantly lifts all the earthy flavors of the peanut sauce. (Pair with Spring Vegetable Fonio Pilaf, this dish needs a healthy grain to sop up its sauce)


Serves 6
    For the Mafé
    • tablespoons peanut oil
    • pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2- to 3-inch pieces
    • tablespoons kosher salt
    • large onion, finely chopped
    • garlic cloves, crushed
    • tablespoons tomato paste
    • cups chicken stock, or water
    • bay leaves
    • sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
    • cup unsweetened smooth peanut butter
    • 6-8  okra, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
    • Scotch bonnet pepper, left whole
    • tablespoons Vietnamese fish sauce
      For the rof Gremolata
      • bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
      • scallions, finely chopped
      • garlic clove, crushed
      • ½  Scotch bonnet pepper, seeded and finely chopped
      • Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
      • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
      Adapted from- Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl, by Pierre Thiam


      • 01 .   For the Mafé

        Heat the oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.

      • 02 .  

        Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. Add the shanks a few at a time, without overcrowding. Brown them well on all sides, about 8 minutes, and set aside on a plate. Repeat until all the shanks are nicely browned, adding more oil if necessary.

      • 03 .  

        In the same pan, brown the onions. Reduce the heat to low and add the minced garlic. Stir well, then add the diluted tomato paste. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 7 to 10 minutes, until a deep, dark red. Add another tablespoon or two of water to prevent scorching, if needed.

      • 04 .  

        Add the stock, raise the heat, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the bay leaves, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly add the peanut butter 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring constantly to dissolve it in the liquid.


      • 05 .  

        Return the shanks to the pot, pressing down to submerge them in the sauce. Add the Scotch bonnet and fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, until the shanks are tender.

      • 06 .   For the gremolata

        Gently combine the parsley, scallions, garlic, Scotch bonnet, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

      • 07 .  

        Uncover the pot and continue cooking until the sauce is thick and coats the back of a spoon. Remove the bay leaves and skim off the fat.


      • 08 .  

        Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve the lamb shanks and sauce hot, on a platter.