I was browsing through a cookbook of Turkish cuisine one day and a lamb shank recipe I encountered had me at pomegranate and quince sauce. I had no idea if I would even like lamb shank, but after loving how this turned out, I vowed to convince anyone who would listen (meaning, my husband and in-laws) that maybe we should give up on the Turkey one year? You know, just this once, because variety is the spice of life? I had no such luck, but due to a series of unfortunate events involving my husband, a frisbee, a broken knee, and a man I’d like to throttle, my husband and I had to spend Thanksgiving on our own that year, him on heavy pain medication and me in the kitchen trying to salvage the holiday. That was when the lamb shank and I became fast friends. So, I humbly offer this alternative to the vaunted Thanksgiving centerpiece. —NakedBeet
Test Kitchen Notes
What a winning combo for my favorite items: lamb, pomegranate, and wine. I made this with saffron rice which complemented the lamb wonderfully. It's relatively simple to make, too -- all you have to have is time and the yummy list of ingredients. —Jenya
In a large heavy pan, brown the shanks on all sides, turning them after 5-8 minutes on each side. You’ll be able to brown the short sides if you help prop one shank with the other. If you have the room, you can brown them all in the same pan. Set aside.
Pour off all the lamb fat from the pan. Place the butter and cut onions into the pan and cook the onions for 5-8 minutes until golden. Put the shanks back in the pan and add the cinnamon sticks, cloves, salt, pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons of sugar and water. (If you’re using 2 pans, you’ll have to duplicate all the ingredients for the other pan with the shanks.) Cover and cook on low for 1 1/2 hours. Check the pan once in a while to check on the liquid; it should be halfway up the side of the lamb, and add pomegranate juice and water at a 2:1 ratio if the lamb still needs time to cook. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes if necessary, but don’t overcook. Once cooked, the meat will be tender and falling off the bone. Remove the shanks and set aside.
To the sauce, add 2 tablespoons of quince jam and simmer the until reduced in half. If the sauce becomes too sweet, adjust with fresh lemon juice to bring back some of the tang. You can strain the sauce from the onions or leave them in. Pour some of the sauce over the shanks before serving just to give them some shine and set the rest of the pomegranate sauce at the table.
Note: If you're using a pomegranate juice that has a lot of sugar in it, you should taste your sauce and not add any more sugar into the liquid. This is supposed to have a tart/sweet flavor-heavy on the tart!