In a very large heavy-bottomed pot (I had to use two as none of mine were large enough to hold all the ingredients!), heat half the olive oil. Add the chopped celery, onion, carrot, garlic and spices. Fry for a few minutes to soften.
In a separate large heavy frying pan, heat the remaining oil and add lamb shanks two or three at a time and brown a little on all sides, turning with tongs as necessary. As they brown, transfer the shanks to the pot with the vegetables.
Add stock (enough to cover shanks) and bring to the boil. Then turn down the heat and leave to simmer for 2 hours. Check the liquid level occasionally and do not allow to dry out. Add salt & pepper as necessary.
Add the dried apricots and preserved lemon wedges to the pot, then simmer for another 45 mins. To thicken sauce, remove shanks and stir in a little cornflour (cornstarch) mixed with water.
Serve immediately on jewelled couscous (recipe to follow). The end result is nothing short of spectatular: the meat falls off the bones; the flavour is spicy, intriguing and warming without scaring spice-phobic guests; and the spicy meat and sweet apricots are a marriage made in heaven. Next time they predict snow, stock up on lamb shanks and try this recipe – I promise you will not regret it.