Friday, January 24, 2014

Praise for a Braise--Lamb Shanks in Pomegranate Juice

Sometimes My cookbook shelf is a receptacle for my scribbles. Almost always those scraps of paper contain hastily written recipes, scrawled while talking to my sister. Inevitaby our conversations involve lengthy descriptions of what we are about to eat or the same in past tense! She has a Facebook page What's On The Menu Today? where friends post their concoctions. For some of us, the page is an inspiration for dinner, for others the opposite end of the spectrum.  But I digress.... Prassy and me share everyday conversations of a plethora of subjects almost always ending with a recipe which I hastily write on a scrap of paper! And these scraps sit on the shelf until I remember where they are or until they are shoved into a folder. 

So I decide to rearrange my scribbles as well as those 'cut outs' from magazines and newspapers. Hmm.. Are you smiling in companionship or rue as I know many of you do the latter. Maybe not so much in the Internet world, but my recipe clipping goes back 30-40 years. As a teenager I combed Mums Good Housekeeping to find what I thought were gems. Some truly turned out to be keepers and others got tossed!! I do this periodically. Weed out yellowed snips and add new cut outs. As I go through the pile my eyes fall on a Mediterranean lamb shank recipe. I put it aside knowing I have some in the freezer. Soon I have neat heaps of appetizers to desserts. My rule of thumb is 'try it out and then add to ✔️ section.' The lamb shanks look like they are going thataway! 

It's time I cook something completely out of my ballpark. I marinate shanks overnight in pomegranate juice. They are getting a long braise in the oven, but before that they are browned. Liquids are added along with spices and in goes the lamb. Hours to go before I eat...

Lamb Shanks in Pomergranate Juice
Serves 4

2 large Lamb Shanks
1 tablespoon Garlic paste
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground Black pepper
2 cups Pomergranate juice
2 tablespoons Olive oil
1 large Onion
10 cloves Garlic
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme leaves
1 cup Red Wine 
1/2 cup Brown sugar
1 tablespoon Oregano
1/2 teaspoon Cinammon 
1/2 teaspoon Allspice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground Black pepper
2 tablespoon Flour
2-3 tablespoons Water

Rub lamb shanks with garlic paste, salt and pepper.

Place shanks in a ziploc bag and pour pomergranate juice into bag. Give it a shake and refridgerate for 6 hours or overnight. you could place the shanks in a container too. Make sure the shanks are covered in juice.

Allow shanks to come to room temperature before you start braising.

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof saucepan. 

Remove lamb shanks from the marinade. Save the marinade.

Drop shanks into hot oil and leave undisturbed for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip shanks and brown the other sides.

Peel and slice onions into 1/4 inch half moons.

Peel garlic cloves.

Roughly chop thyme leaves.

Remove browned shanks and place in a bowl.

Heat oven to 350F.

Add onion and garlic to the saucepan and sauté till light brown.

Drop in thyme leaves for stir for a few seconds.

Add the red wine and let the sauce come to a slow boil.

Return lamb shanks to saucepan.

Add saved marinade.

Sprinkle in brown sugar, oregano, allspice, salt and pepper. 

The sauce should be gently simmering at this point. 

Cover the saucepan with a perforated lid. Or cover with foil and make a few slit in the foil with a knife. This allows some steam to escape, not making the sauce too watery.

Braise in the oven for 2 hours. Poke with a knife to see if meat is cooked. It should come apart at this stage. If the meat still has some give, go ahead and braise for another 15-20 minutes.

Whisk flour and water to form a thick slurry. 

Take the saucepan out of the oven and scoop out lamb shanks on to a serving platter.

Place saucepan on a medium flame and let it bubble.

Add flour slurry gently to saucepan, stirring all the time so no lumps form. 

Let the sauce gently simmer for 5 minutes. 

Pour sauce over lamb shanks  and serve.


Lamb shanks are great but you could easily use shoulder or chunks.  The braising time will be much less for those... Half the above cooking time.

I marinated the shanks overnight. A few hours should suffice for lack of time.

This validation for years of recipe clipping. Most times I try a dish and it lives up to its promise. This one is a keeper.

Meat falls off the bone. Lamb shanks swim in a tart sweet sauce. roasted cauliflower in goat cheese, farro with artichokes and parsley finish the plate. I can shred the lamb with my fork.  Shanks go right into the ✔️ section!! I transfer the clipping into that file, amended, definitely assured of another turn in my kitchen. I take a bite of cauliflower...another revelation. And then a spoonful of farro...oh my....that is a flavor explosion!!!!! Be prepared!!! It's coming!!!