Persian spiced lamb shanks - living in the shank man's paradise


Persian spiced lamb shanks

These Persian spiced lamb shanks are the best I have ever made. By a mile. And I have cooked some mean shanks. No, modesty is not my thing. At least I'm not taking any credit for this recipe, because it is not mine. But I did find it online, I suppose that's something. I googled "Persian spiced lamb shanks" because that was exactly what I wanted. And this recipe for Persian spiced lamb shanks magically came up on top. Thank you Google!

And I executed the recipe to perfection and I'm not just saying that myself, Husband's quite the shank man and he was in heaven. He must have said at least 5 times during the dinner what unbelievably great food it was and what a lucky man he was to have such a brilliant shank-cooking wife.

He's actually been sending me these really sweet messages now, probably fuelled by the shanks. In one a little animated couple sits on a picnic rug and the boy puts his arm around the girl and squeezes her lovingly. That's the power of a well-cooked shank for you!

I made these on Saturday when husbands kids were over and the kids were slightly embarrassed by husband's rapturous reaction "Dad you said that at least 5 times already" but they loved the shanks too. Got through two each, Together the four of us demolished 2 kg of meat / 6 shanks. Just saying in case you ever invite us for dinner, a little won't go a long way. Plus a fair amount of baghali polo (dill and lima bean rice), roast potatoes and mast-o-khiar cucumber yoghurt. Result!

I followed the original recipe pretty closely. It looked perfect and I had nothing much to add or change. I replaced fresh nutmeg with ground, left out the orange as had none, was a bit more generous than the original recipe with saffron, because I love saffron, and just converted the amounts to match my larger amount of meat. I bet you could add garlic and/or ginger, but I thought I'll trust the original recipe as there seems to be such depth and breadth of flavours already.

And oh boy was it awesome. It's not a difficult or cumbersome recipe either. Just the sauce with the rice would have been worth the effort. And the meat was fall-off-the-bone soft and gorgeous beyond words.

Can't wait to do it again. It made it's way straight onto my "Xmas week's magical menu for Mum and Dad" excel spreadsheet of the most epic dishes that I will be cooking for them as they visit us this Christmas.

Middle-eastern lamb shanks with saffron and rosewater

Recipe and instructions by David Tanis at NY Times:

Persian spiced lamb shanks

4 lamb shanks (ask for the hind shanks), about 4 1/2 to 5 pounds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon ground dried rosebuds, optional
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
Vegetable oil
¼ teaspoon crumbled saffron
Juice of 2 limes, about 4 tablespoons
3 teaspoons rosewater, available from Middle Eastern grocery shops
1 large onion, roughly chopped
½ teaspoon ground dried lime, or the zest of 1 fresh lime
Zest of 1 orange, plus 1 tablespoon more for garnish
A few thyme sprigs
2 fresh bay leaves
6 cups hot chicken broth or water
2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley, for garnish
2 tablespoons roughly chopped mint or dill, for garnish

Trim any excess fat from lamb shanks and season generously with salt. Mix together the cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, rosebuds (if using), black pepper and turmeric. Sprinkle evenly over shanks and rub into meat. Let sit at room temperature at least an hour, or wrap and refrigerate overnight, then bring to room temperature.

Place a Dutch oven or deep, heavy pot over medium-high heat and add oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. When oil is hot, add 2 lamb shanks and fry until nicely browned on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside, then brown the 2 remaining shanks.

Meanwhile, put saffron in a small bowl with lime juice, 2 teaspoons rosewater and 1/2 cup warm water. Let steep for 10 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Carefully remove all but 2 tablespoons oil from Dutch oven. Add chopped onion and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly colored, 8 to 10 minutes. Season onion with salt, then add lime zest, orange zest, thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Stir in saffron mixture. Lay in the lamb shanks and add the broth. Bring to a boil, then turn off heat and cover pot.

Transfer pot to oven and bake for about 1 1/2 hours, covered, until meat is tender when probed and beginning to fall from the bone. Remove lamb shanks to a deep serving dish and keep warm. Strain braising juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing with a wooden spoon to obtain all the liquid (discard thyme, bay leaves and onions). Skim fat, then taste and add salt if necessary. Add 1 more teaspoon rosewater, if desired. Reheat strained juices and pour over lamb shanks. Combine parsley, mint and reserved orange zest and sprinkle over top.

Use a large spoon to break the tender shank meat into large chunks. Serve in low, wide soup plates, giving each portion a spoonful of the juices. Accompany with steamed Basmati rice, lavash flatbread or a loaf of crusty French bread.

Persian spiced lamb shanks

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