I sort of started a tradition of bad puns in lamb shank posts last year, so it would be a shame not to carry on with that. Besides... The Boy isn't even home tonight, so no one has to listen to him groaning loudly over my terrible punnage.
While I can take full credit for the pun, I can't take full credit for the recipe. I first encountered it in an issue of Cooking Light, though back then it was a stew.
Over time, I've adapted it bit by bit, first by switching over to lamb shanks instead of cubed lamb stew meat, and then by adding a dash of cumin and a pinch of saffron to the sauce for a little extra Middle Eastern flair.
The essential character of the dish remains unchanged, though. It's still got fall-off-the-bone tender lamb, tender chickpeas and carrots, loads of gorgeous silky sauce flavoured with sweet-and-sour pomegranate molasses, and a vibrant punch of mint and cilantro stirred in right at the end to cut through the richness.
The best part of making this dish is that the shanks make it swank enough for a casual dinner party, but it's still simple and homey enough (not to mention, affordable enough) to make for a simple weekend dinner.
What to Serve with Braised Lamb Shanks
I usually serve these shanks on top of saffron-infused couscous pilaf. Either the fine-grained North African style and the larger pearl-sized Israeli couscous will do, so just go with what's easiest for you.
(Personally, I'm quite partial to the toothsome grains of the Israeli style, especially in saucy dishes like this one.)
Regardless of which kind of couscous you're using, the technique remains the same: prepare per package directions using a combination of half chicken broth and half water, along with a generous pinch of crumbled saffron threads and a dash of turmeric.
More Delicious Lamb Recipes to Try
- Mediterranean Stuffed Eggplants with Lamb Filling
- Indian-Spiced Lamb Lollipops with Mint Pesto
- Moroccan Braised Lamb Shanks
- Moroccan-Spiced Grilled Lamb Wraps
These fall-off-the-bone tender lamb shanks are paired with chickpeas, carrots, and downright delicious sauce flavoured with tangy pomegranate molasses, aromatic saffron, and fresh mint and cilantro. Pair with cooked rice or couscous for a company-worthy dish.
- 6 lamb shanks, approx ¾ lb each
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¾ tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 cups finely diced red onion
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 4 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- ½ tsp crumbled saffron threads
- 2 cups sliced carrots
- 1 can (19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- Season shanks all over with salt and pepper. In a large heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven set over medium high heat, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Add shanks and sear until well-browned on all sides. (Make sure not to crowd the pan - if your Dutch oven isn't large enough, work with batches of two or three shanks at a time instead.) Remove shanks from pot and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 tbsp olive oil and onion to the pot, and saute until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and cumin, and saute for 1 minute longer or until fragrant.
- Add broth, pomegranate molasses and saffron. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits left behind. Return shanks to the pot. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 2 hours.
- Stir in carrots and chickpeas. Continue simmering, uncovered, for another 45 minutes, or until lamb is very tender and pulling away from the bone. Remove from heat. Stir in the mint and cilantro, and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper as needed. Serve immediately over hot couscous or rice.
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light (Jan 2006)
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
- Category: Mains
- Method: Braised
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern