Fonio Tabouleh with Slow Cooked Lamb Shank

Chef Pierre Thiam
Chef Pierre Thiam

Inspired by North African tabouleh, this version with fonio is a delicious combination full of vegetable flavors and colors. It is slightly different than the Mediterranean version. The lamb is so tender when shredded that it seems to melt into the fonio. The salad is bright and fresh with cucumber and herbs, and is also a great way to use up leftover lamb. This recipes uses lamb shank but goat shank, lamb or goat shoulder or left over leg could be substituted.

Tabouleh is a simple salad of very finely chopped vegetables and fonio tossed with lemon juice and olive oil. It can be served as a side dish with or without lamb or layered in pita bread and top it with lamb and feta cheese. Fonio is a West African grain with a very small seed. It is one of the most nutritious grains available and has been cultivated for thousands of years yet remains relatively unknown. It is gluten free and packed with protein, vitamins and minerals. In taste and texture it is similar to couscous or quinoa.

This recipe serves 4.

This recipe is used with permission from Chef Pierre Thiam. Find more of his recipes in his book Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl and on his website.

Lamb Tabouleh
Lamb Tabouleh

Ingredients

2 Lamb Shanks or Goat Shanks   -or use leftover lamb or goat meat.
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, unpeeled, crushed with the side of a knife
2 dried bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2 quarts water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Tabouleh (recipe follows)
Vinaigrette (recipe follows) 

  • In a large oven-safe pot, such as a Dutch oven, combine the lamb shanks, onion, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and water. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to the oven. Cook for 5 hours, or until the lamb is very tender.
  • Remove from the oven and let the lamb cool in the liquid until it is easy to handle.
  • Remove the lamb from the cooking liquid and set aside. Strain the cooking liquid into a small pot and discard the solids. Over high heat, reduce the liquid by half. Set aside to cool and skim and discard the fat that rises to the top.
  • While the cooking liquid is reducing, shred the lamb and discard the bones, fat, and membranes.
  • Season the lamb with salt and pepper to taste.

Vinaigrette

Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup of the reduced cooking liquid, the lemon juice, mustard, salt, and pepper and whisk to dissolve the salt. Slowly pour in the oil, whisking constantly to emulsify.

Tabouleh

2 cups cooked fonio or quinoa
1 bunch parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 bunch mint, leaves finely chopped
1 Kirby cucumber, peeled and diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
½ diced mango (optional)
1 cup microgreens or baby arugula
½ cup small green olives, pitted (optional)

Place the fonio in a large bowl and add the shredded lamb, parsley, mint, cucumber, tomatoes, mango and micro greens. Toss well and generously fold in the vinaigrette to taste. (You may have some left over.) Top with the olives (if using).

Serve immediately.

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