Braise

Pomegranate-Braised Lamb Shanks

December 27, 2015
6 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
Author Notes

I'm not usually a big fan of red meat, but braised lamb shanks are an exception. Cook a lamb shank for long enough, and the meat becomes soft, almost cushiony, and relaxes away from the bone. This version, adapted from Food Wishes, combines three of my favorite lamb flavor partners: pomegranate, garlic, and rosemary. You can reduce the braising liquid right down to a sticky glaze, or leave it a little saucier and spoon it over rice or couscous. —ieatthepeach

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Ieatthepeach is a blogger extraordinaire living in California's Bay Area.
WHAT: Fruity, tangy, herby lamb shanks, braised low and slow in pomegranate juice.
HOW: Slow-cook lamb shanks in a bittersweet mess of pomegranate juice, balsamic vinegar, garlic, and herbs—then reduce that liquid, spoon it over the shanks, and shower with pomegranate seeds.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We loved the pomegranate juice-balsamic vinegar combo: It mimics the color and acidity of red wine, with a pleasantly sweet undertone that punches through the richness of the lamb. Depending on how much spice you like, you may want to add more red pepper flakes. And don't skimp on doling out the sauce when you go to serve the shanks, which, after 3 hours of braising, were falling off the bone. —The Editors

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 4 hours
  • Serves 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 4 pounds lamb shanks (3 to 6 shanks, preferably all about the same size)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup canola, peanut, or vegetable oil
  • 1 sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 cups (one 16-ounce bottle) pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, or to taste
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed with the back of a knife
  • 3 to 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (about 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves)
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon honey, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 250° F, and position an oven rack in the middle. In a large, deep-sided, oven-safe pan (like a sauté pan, braiser, or Dutch oven), heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Season the lamb shanks generously with salt, then brown them very well on all sides. Transfer the shanks to a plate and set aside.
  2. Pour off all but about 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan. Lower the heat under the pan to medium. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is starting to soften. Add pomegranate juice, scraping the bottom of the pan to release any browned bits. Add balsamic vinegar, garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs, and chile flakes, and bring the liquid to a boil.
  3. Return the lamb shanks to the pan, along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Let the liquid come back to a boil, then cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours (depending on the size of your shanks), until the meat is very tender and almost-but-not-quite falling off the bone. Remove the pan from the oven and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes. Turn the oven down to 150° F.
  4. Transfer the lamb shanks to a serving platter or a rimmed baking sheet, and cover with aluminum foil. Place the shanks in the oven to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup or small bowl, and discard the solids. Let the liquid stand for a minute or two, so that the fat rises to the top. Use a ladle or spoon to skim off as much of the fat as you can—don’t worry about getting it all.
  5. Pour the liquid into a small saucepan (or wipe out the pan you cooked the lamb in, and use that). Place the pan over medium-high heat and bring the liquid to a boil. Add honey and black pepper, then let the liquid reduce for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it’s the consistency you like. Taste and add more salt, chile flakes, vinegar, and/or honey as needed.
  6. Remove the lamb shanks from the oven and spoon over the reduced braising liquid. Scatter pomegranate seeds (if using) over them. Serve warm. Leftover meat will keep, tightly covered, in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 2 months.
  7. You can make the lamb up to a day ahead. After taking it out of the oven, let the whole thing cool completely and refrigerate (you may want to take the shanks out of the liquid and refrigerate them separately). The next day, scoop off as much of the solidified fat as you can, then reheat the shanks in the braising liquid. Transfer the shanks to a platter or pan, put in a 150° F oven to keep warm, then strain and finish the sauce as instructed.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

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    Nancy Dressel
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  • sexyLAMBCHOPx
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14 Reviews

Nancy D. February 27, 2021
Made this tonight and I can't wait until Covid is over to serve this at a dinner party. So delicious! Tangy and so full of flavor. My husband loved it and so did I!
 
Linda S. December 18, 2020
just made this for dinner and we loved it! passed the recipe on to my friend. Will definitely make again!
 
Sarah Y. June 24, 2020
This has become my dinner party go-to dish!! I have made it about 6 times over the past 3 years - mainly because of the price of the ingredients, but it is so delicious! And I love that I can prepare it in advance. l've experimented with different cuts of lamb, spices & hers, as well as sometime using my slow cooker. I don't love reducing the sauce down at the end, (it's so messy!), but I keep making it because the results are just that good! Excited to have it for dinner this Friday with out of town guests. Yum!!!
 
dtucker November 21, 2020
might you please say more re: how you used your slow-cooker to prepare this - ie what adjustments you made (e.g. to timing, temp, settings)? ((I have an Instant Pot, so if you used pressure settings rather than simply slow-cooker ones, I'd appreciate hearing). Many thanks!
 
Darian August 3, 2019
These were fantastic! My whole family raved over the lamb. It was so tender, fell right off the bone, and the sauce hit all the right notes - sweet, tangy, and earthy. I served it with Israeli couscous (as pictured) with a side of lemon ginger sugar snap peas.
 
AnnaMaria C. January 17, 2017
Literally just made this. The flavor is freakin incredible. Hats off to you!
 
Candy July 6, 2016
We enjoyed this recipe although the braising liquid reduced by more than half was still very thin. I have saved and will try again thickened with the last two shanks. We liked the slightly sweet/tart flavor and I increased the pepper flakes as suggested to 3/4 tsp. Thank you for a simple but very pleasant recipe
 
Jen B. March 18, 2016
Sounds delicious. What do you recommend serving this dish with?
 
sexyLAMBCHOPx March 17, 2016
Impressive-looking dish. Cogradulations!
 
LeBec F. March 17, 2016
go girl! you did it; well-earned!
 
LeBec F. March 12, 2016
Congrats on this big step!!! I really like what you've done here, but i must confess that, particularly with your self-chosen moniker, I can't figure out why you are so wussy with the chile flakes! You're not afraid of flavor, obviously, but this 1/4 tsp.(?????) is like a typo. While I am certainly no dragon-mouth, I would think the sweetness of the sauce/glaze could easily be well balanced with 1-2 Tablespoons chile flakes(this recipe is for 4-6 people, right?) I hope you'll relegate that wussiness to the Joy of Cooking closet, and embrace the spice-loving chef that you are!
 
Author Comment
ieatthepeach March 13, 2016
Haha, fair point! :) You're right, I'm normally a spice fiend, but I actually thought this sauce didn't need it--with the pomegranate, vinegar, garlic, and rosemary, it's plenty gutsy on its own. That said, this could totally stand up to more chile if you're looking for something spicier!
 
QueenSashy March 11, 2016
What I glorious dish! I am so going to be making it soon, in the meantime, I'll be dreaming about it... Congrats on the finals!
 
Author Comment
ieatthepeach March 11, 2016
Yay, and thank you!