Pomegranate Braised Lamb Shanks

These melt-in-your mouth tender lamb shanks are seasoned entirely with Israeli flavors and braised in pomegranate juice. The rich, tangy lamb meat falls off the bone and has a luscious savory & sweet flavor profile. The recipe also has a za’atar substitute built in for those who don’t eat kitniyot, or legumes, during Pesach, or Passover. This way, everyone who wants to can share in the fun of focusing their meals around traditionally symbolic ingredients during Pesach, like I do in my home.

I like to make lamb every year during Passover to commemorate the paschal lambs, or sacrificial Pesach lambs. These lambs were sacrificed so that their blood could be used to smear the doorposts on the Jewish homes during the last of the 10 plagues, the death of the firstborn. Despite the gruesomeness of this aspect of the story, I nonetheless like to tie the symbolism into our meals during this time as a way of generating conversation and reflection.

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The night before you want to serve the lamb shanks, liberally salt your meat all over and place the shanks into an air-tight container big enough to fit them with the lid on. Close the lid and refrigerate overnight.

About 5 hours before you want to serve the shanks, remove them from the brining liquid and let them come to room temperature. Once they’ve warmed up a bit, preheat your oven to 325°F. Dry the meat thoroughly, then sprinkle it with pepper and a little more salt. Heat a large skillet on high heat and add avocado oil. Once the pan is smoking hot, add the lamb shanks. Sear until brown on all sides. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a large dutch oven or braiser on the stove at medium-high heat and add a Tbsp of avocado oil. Once the oil is rippling, add the garlic and onions and cook until tender and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Scatter the pieces of preserved lemon all over the onions and garlic, then place the shanks on the top.

Sprinkle the potato starch over the shanks and rub it in a little bit. Drizzle the silan over the tops of the shanks.

Sprinkle the za’atar (or herb mixture if you’re avoiding kitniyot) on top. Pour the pomegranate juice around the sides of the meat until it comes about half-way up.

Braise in the oven, covered. After 1½ hours, remove the lid and turn the shanks over. Return to the oven.

Cook uncovered for another 2 hours, turning the shanks every 30-45 minutes. Once they’re finished cooking, remove them from the braising liquid and place onto a serving plate. Garnish with the parsley and pomegranate arils.

Pomegranate Braised Lamb Shanks

Becca Gallick-Mitchell
These rich, tender lamb shanks are full of nuanced, zesty flavor. They are cooked low and slow so that once they're done, they fall off the bone. Kosher for Passover, but a spectacular treat for any time of year.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs 45 mins
Brining Time 1 d
Total Time 15 hrs 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Israeli
Servings 2

Ingredients
  

  • 2 lamb shanks (or 1 per person)
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil (or other oil with a high smoke point)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ preserved lemon, julienned
  • 2 tsp potato starch
  • 1 qt pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbsp silan (date syrup)
  • 2 tsp za'atar seasoning (a good-quality one with hyssop in it) Replace with a mixture of 1 tsp dried mint and 1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary if you aren't eating kitniyot during Pesach
  • 1 small sprig parsley, finely chopped for garnish
  • 1 small handful pomegranate arils, for garnish

Instructions
 

  • The night before you want to serve the lamb shanks, liberally salt your meat all over and place the shanks into an air-tight container big enough to fit them with the lid on. Close the lid and refrigerate overnight.
  • About 5 hours before you want to serve the shanks, remove them from the brining liquid and let them come to room temperature. Once they've warmed up a bit, preheat your oven to 325°F. Dry the meat thoroughly, then sprinkle it with pepper and a little more salt. Heat a large skillet on high heat and add avocado oil. Once the pan is smoking hot, add the lamb shanks. Sear until brown on all sides. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  • Heat a large dutch oven or braiser on the stove at medium-high heat and add a Tbsp of avocado oil. Once the oil is rippling, add the garlic and onions and cook until tender and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Scatter the pieces of preserved lemon all over the onions and garlic, then place the shanks on the top.
  • Sprinkle the potato starch over the shanks and rub it in a little bit. Drizzle the silan over the tops of the shanks, then sprinkle the za'atar (or herb mixture if you're avoiding kitniyot) on top. Pour the pomegranate juice around the sides of the meat until it comes about half-way up. Braise in the oven, covered. After 1½ hours, remove the lid and turn the shanks over. Return to the oven.
  • Cook uncovered for another 2 hours, turning the shanks every 30-45 minutes. Once they're finished cooking, remove them from the braising liquid and place onto a serving plate. Garnish with the parsley and pomegranate arils.
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