Braised Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate

I brought these lamb shanks last week thinking I would cook them around Easter–but we ended up spending the entire easter weekend with my husband’s family, which was fabulous! I didn’t have to worry about a thing {besides the church talk I have to give on Easter Sunday!} But since the lamb shanks had to be used by today, I decided to cook them up for no special reason or occasion… just a regular old tuesday evening {made a little less regular by this delicious dinner!} I know braised meats and pomegranates are often associated with winter time, so this recipe is a little “out of place” but to me, there is no better way to cook lamb shanks–than in a delicious, rich flavorful gravy, that makes the meat so tender it falls right off the bone! I loved the sweet pomegranate with the salty carrots and meat–and it also “dressed it up” adding some much-needed color with the thyme. So if you guys are thinking of making some lamb before it goes out for the Easter season for no special reason at all, or even for a nice, sunday dinner–you guys should give this recipe a go! You will love it.

Ingredients: {recipe adapted from Williams-sanoma}
2 1lb lamb shanks
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Tbs. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 tsp. minced garlic
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 bunch. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. allspice
2 bay leaves
1 cup red wine
1 cup pomegranate juice
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp chicken bouillon
6 carrots, sliced
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
pomegranate arils for garnish
Serving ideas: Polenta, couscous, orzo, mashed potato, or fresh pasta {something to ‘soak up’ that delicious gravy!}

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325degF.

Season the lamb shanks generously on both sides with kosher salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over high heat. Add the lamb shanks, and brown 3-4 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan, and cook until softened and fragrant {4-5 minutes} stirring occasionally. Add the spices: cinnamon, cumin, allspice and stir to combine. Add the red wine and simmer until reduced by half. Add the tomato paste, pomegranate juice, honey, 1 cup water and 1 tsp chicken bouillon, the carrots, and the bay leaves. Return the lamb shanks to the pan. Cover, and cook for 1 hour in the oven. Turn over, uncover, and cook for an additional 1 hour-1 1/2 hours until tender.

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