Make Ahead

Persian Lamb in Pomegranate Quince sauce

by:
December  4, 2012
4.3 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

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

  • Serves 8 (1 shank serves 2)
Ingredients
  • 4 Lamb shanks, visible fat trimmed off
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 cups POM 100% pomegranate juice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon whole clove
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons quince jam
  • 1/2 a lemon's juice
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Transcendancing
    Transcendancing
  • piacere
    piacere
  • QueenSashy
    QueenSashy
  • mrslarkin
    mrslarkin
  • aargersi
    aargersi

16 Reviews

karen March 12, 2021
Question: the intro says "my three favorite things," lamb, pomegranate, and wine. But there is no mention of wine in this recipe. Is that an accidental omission, or shall I assume it's wine in a glass to accompany the finished shanks? So often a braise like this includes wine...just checkin', just in case.....
 
Author Comment
NakedBeet March 12, 2021
Hi Karen, good pickup! That is definitely a Test Kitchen note comment, maybe they were looking for a good wine combo for the dish. But, yes, you're right, there is no wine in my original recipe. Though, I've seen several lamb/wine and lamb/acidic fruit of choice combos since originally posting this recipe. Hope you enjoy it if you end up making it!
 
karen March 12, 2021
Thanks so much NakedBeet, for the reply. I just made this recipe (the shanks are in the oven as I type). I increased the recipe x2 and in the end, I was short a bit of liquid, so I added a bottle of lite red wine. Also, the allspice is missing from the method portion of the recipe.
I'm looking forward to this stew. Thanks for the good ideas.
 
Transcendancing May 4, 2016
I put this in my slow cooker for 7 hours ish and it turned out *beautifully*. I added some pomegranate molasses and a slosh of sherry vinegar at the end which sharpened it up just the right amount. I served it with couscous that had dried apricots, currants, parsley and toasted cashews. Would definitely make this and recommend it.
 
piacere October 17, 2014
Ditto to chrissyleer's question about subbign quince paste.
 
Author Comment
NakedBeet March 12, 2021
Yes, I sub for quince paste myself when I can't find fresh quince. You just want to adjust the flavor with that added sugar in there. I like mine on the less sweet side, so sometimes I add lemon to balance off or more pom juice.
 
chrissyleer June 25, 2014
I wonder, could you use quince paste in place of jam?
 
Author Comment
NakedBeet November 13, 2015
You could, and I would just thin it out a bit to replicate the consistency of jam.
 
FusionontheFly June 28, 2013
I've had it and made it in Istanbul and it never included sugar. Was this added for American tastes?
 
Author Comment
NakedBeet November 13, 2015
I'm a big advocate of "to your taste!" So, if you want to try it without the sugar, go ahead. I'm also using a pomegranate juice that has no sugar in it other than it's natural own. I tend to take sugar out in recipes myself, but POM is super super tart, so I added just a bit of sugar back in. Try it and let us know how you like it!
 
QueenSashy December 20, 2012
This dish looks like it is to die for and I cannot wait to try it!
 
Author Comment
NakedBeet November 13, 2015
This is a beloved replacement to turkey at our Thanksgiving table, hope you like it!
 
mrslarkin December 5, 2012
lamb shanks rock! These look and sound pretty amazing.
 
Author Comment
NakedBeet December 6, 2012
mrslarkin, it's reminiscent of your lamb with mint/feta/blood oranges dish. ; )
 
aargersi December 5, 2012
I am SO GLAD you posted this! I was having lamb thoughts but no time to do anything about it and these sound absolutely perfect. The pomegranate / spice / lemon thing against that lamb fat. YUM!!!
 
Author Comment
NakedBeet December 5, 2012
Got it in just the nick of time! ; ) I hope you like it, it's a pretty low-maintenance recipe.