There were, serendipitously, lamb shanks at my local market, conveniently cut in two. What could be nicer? I loaded the tagine with all kinds of things that lamb loves (thyme, garlic, lemon), put on the lid, and set it on top of the stove; this new tagine works either on the stovetop or in the oven.
What emerged 90 minutes later was really tasty, but I must admit that it was even better the second day. The artichokes all but fell apart, the olives were as wrinkled as a little old man, and I didn't even have to peel the butternut squash - the skin yielded to "low and slow". And the leeks! People, those leeks were worth it all by themselves. They were soft and sweet and limply heavenly.
If I did this again, I'd likely swap out the butternut squash for kabocha, as it is firmer and sweeter, but the squash improved the second day when we ate it, bite for bite, with some of the lemon peel. And the crisp nuts gave the whole dish texture and salty interest.
Everything was infused with the garlic and Meyer lemon that I added as perfume, plus the herbal/spicy notes that wafted up from the bottom. Oh, baby.
I'm pretty sure you could do this without the tagine, if you don't have one, but if I were you, I'd hurry out to get one.
2 lamb shanks - ask the butcher to cut them in half crossways.
2 leeks, carefully washed and toughest leaves removed
1 large artichoke, quartered and fuzz removed
1 small squash, sliced about 2" think and seeds removed (I used butternut but I think I'd try kabocho next time)
A handful of olives (I used calvestrano)
1 Meyer (or regular) lemon - squeeze the juice in, then cut the lemon into slices and add those to the pot, peel and all.
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 or 4 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly crushed (or to taste - I'd add more next time)
Dried thyme to taste
About 1/4 to 1/2 cup water
A handful of salted cashews or shelled salted pistachios.
You could brown the lamb shanks before hand (and I think that would be an improvement), but I didn't this time and the meat was still tender and tasty.
In the bottom of the tagine, add the olive oil and heat over low heat. Add the garlic and thyme. Salt and pepper the lamb shanks and add them to the bottom. Pile the other ingredients on top, positioning the things that take longest to cook at the bottom and layering the rest in order of cooking time, ending with the things that take the shortest time. Pour in a little water.
Put on the lid. Over very low heat, cook for about 90 minutes.
Sprinkle with the nuts to add texture to the dish. Serve with the goozle that forms in the bottom of the tagine, plain or with rice or couscous. The artichokes are great dipped in the goozle.