This slow cooked Moroccan lamb with apricots and almonds is perfect as an easy midweek meal, ideal for putting in the slow cooker before work! The spiced slow cooked lamb is delicious with the fruity apricots and herb couscous.
If you're a fan of Moroccan flavours and slow cooking then this slow cooker lamb with apricots and almonds will tick all those boxes.
It's really simple to make and just a matter of putting almost everything in the slow cooker and waiting a few hours. What could be easier? It's exactly the kind of meal I like to make that I can prep in advance and time so it's ready at dinner time.
It's also warm, comforting and fragrant with North African spices. I love spicy lamb recipes and this one is definitely on my favourites list right now!
One of the things that is special about this spicy slow cooked lamb recipe is the way the liquid from the slow cooker is used to hydrate the couscous. After discovering this trick, it's become something I do a lot
The Moroccan spices from the lamb as well as the lamb stock and cooking juices make for really tasty couscous. The dried apricots that are added for the last hour of cooking also add their flavour to the cooking liquid to give it a lovely fruitiness.
Another thing I love about this recipe is the freshness. Adding lots of fresh herbs to a slow cooker meal really brighten up the dish at the end. The bright orange apricots also add some vibrancy.
The toasted almonds add a lovely crunchy nutty dimension to the meal too.
Sometimes a slow cooked meal can be a bit mushy so this is a great way of giving it some texture and freshness.
What ingredients do you need for this slow cooker lamb recipe?
To make this slow cooked lamb you'll need:
- Lamb - I use lamb neck. It's an economical cut of meat that's perfect for slow cooking. After 8 hours in the slow cooker it is beautifully tender and still lovely and moist. However, you could replace it with lamb shanks.
- Spices - ground coriander, cumin and cinnamon. These warming spices are just what you need to add that Moroccan flavour.
- Onion - You can use red or brown onion.
- Garlic - Use fresh garlic or a garlic paste or puree. You can even replace it with garlic powder or granules in this recipe.
- Root ginger - Like with the garlic, you can replace it with a ginger puree or frozen ginger. If you don't have fresh ginger you can even use ground ginger instead.
- Stock - You can use chicken, vegetable or lamb stock if you have it. I usually use chicken or vegetable stock.
- Almonds - Try to use blanched almonds for this recipe as they brown nicely without the skins on.
- Dried apricots
- Fresh herbs - I use a mixture of mint and parsley. You could even add some fresh coriander (cilantro) if you have it.
How to make this slow cooked lamb
This spicy lamb recipe is really simple to make. Just put the lamb, spices, onion, ginger, garlic and stock in the bottom of the slow cooker and cook for about 7 hours.
At this point, open the slow cooker, add the dried apricots and cook for another hour.
When it is ready, put the couscous and chopped herbs in a bowl. Ladle some of the liquid from the slow cooker onto the couscous and leave it for about 10 minute to soak it up.
While the couscous is soaking up the stock, remove the lamb and apricots from the slow cooker and reduce the rest of the liquid. I can do this in the slow cooker as I have a Crock Pot Express Multi Cooker. Depending on the type of slow cooker you are using, you may need to transfer the liquid to a saucepan on the hob to reduce.
At the same time, put the almonds in a dry pan and toast them until slightly browned.
Serve the lamb almonds and apricots on the couscous with the sauce as a gravy.
How can you adapt this recipe?
Like with all recipes, there are loads of ways you can adapt it and put your own spin on it.
Instead of using lamb, why not use chicken thighs? If you do, you can reduce the cooking time to about 6 hours on low.
In North African inspired meals, lamb with apricots is a classic combination. However, you can use different dried fruits as well. Dates, prunes or raisins are a brilliant substitute for the apricots. Or you can add a few as well as the apricots.
This meals does not have a lot of vegetables in it. Therefore, to make it healthier and more of a balanced meal then feel free to add some. You can add carrots, squash, parsnips or sweet potato to the slow cooker along with the lamb. Alternatively, serve some green vegetables alongside this Moroccan lamb casserole. Personally I love a side dish of green beans with this.
If you like the spices but want some heat too then add a diced chilli pepper or two to the pot. Or a little chilli powder.
Why use lamb neck?
Lamb neck is a great economical cut for stews and is perfect in this as it slow cooks beautifully. However, you feel free to use another cut of lamb as long as it is suitable for slow cooking. Lamb leg, shoulder and shanks are all good choices.
This slow cooker Moroccan lamb recipe was adapted from a recipe in the Sainsbury's magazine which used lamb shanks. Lamb neck is cheaper so is good if you are on a tighter budget.
Can you make it gluten free?
To adapt this Moroccan lamb with almonds and make it gluten free, you need to replace the couscous with something. I would suggest quinoa as it cooks relatively quickly. However, you do need to simmer it rather than just leaving it to soak up the stock as you can with couscous.
So, take a few ladles of the stock from the slow cooker and put it in a pan on the hob with the quinoa. Simmer it for about 10-15 minutes.
Storing and reheating
Any leftovers can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days. Just reheat thoroughly in the oven or microwave before serving.
Can you freeze it?
Yes, if you plan to freeze it, I would freeze the cooked lamb in the cooking liquid from the slow cooker and then prepare the couscous when you plan to eat it. It will keep well in the freezer for at least three months.
Defrost the lamb in the fridge overnight and then reheat throughly in a saucepan on the hob or in the microwave.
More lamb recipes
Although I said I didn't use to like lamb, these days I love it, especially with a few spices! Why not try one of these spicy lamb recipes?
Slow Cooked Lamb with Apricots and Almonds
- 300 g lamb neck
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 red onion thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic diced
- 10 g root ginger finely diced or grated
- 500 ml Stock I used chicken stock
- 30 g almonds
- 30 g dried apricots
- 100 g couscous
- 2 tablespoon chopped mint leaves
- 2 tablespoon chopped parsley leaves
- Put the lamb in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the spices and mix into the lamb. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Add the stock. Cook on low for 7 hours.
- Add the dried apricots to the slow cooker and cook for another hour.
- Put the almonds in a dry frying pan and heat gently, keep shaking the pan so they don't burn. When they are golden, set them aside until you are ready to serve.
- Take the lamb out of the slow cooker but put it somewhere where it keeps warm.
- Put the couscous and most of the chopped herbs in a bowl. Ladle about 160ml of the liquid from the slow cooker over the couscous. Cover and leave for 10 minutes.
- Simmer to reduce the liquid in the slow cooker. You may be able to do this in your slow cooker or may need to transfer the liquid to another pan on the hob.
- Serve the lamb on top of the couscous, topped with the liquid from the slow cooker, the toasted almonds and the extra herbs. You could also add some lemon wedges and harissa.
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