Braised Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate and Fennel
Serves 6 | cooking time 2 hours, 30 minutes active time
Sumptuous slow-braised lamb shanks are infused with fennel in two forms, seed and bulb, and cooked in stock and port. To finish, scarlet pomegranate juice is reduced to make a bright sauce, giving the lamb life and vibrancy. Serve this over a creamy polenta.
6 lamb shanks, 1 pound each
salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons oil
2 large onions, cut into wedges, or 2 pounds pearl onions (in the freezer section of your grocery store)
6 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 large fennel bulbs
5 rosemary sprigs or 3 bay leaves
One 750-milliliter bottle ruby port
3 cups chicken or beef stock
1 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 350°F
Slice the top inch of the meat down, releasing it from the bone. Generously salt and pepper the lamb shanks on all sides.
Heat oil in an extra-large, heavy-bottom Dutch oven.
Working in batches, brown the shanks on all sides over medium-high heat. Take your time and do this well.
Set the shanks aside.
Keep the heat on medium-high?
Add onions, garlic, fennel bulbs, and herbs to the same pan. Add port and stock, scraping up the browned bits and bring to a simmer..
Place the shanks back in the liquid, meaty side down, bring to a boil, cover well, and place the Dutch oven, covered, in a 350°F for 1.5 hours.
In a small pot, reduce simmer the pomegranate juice on medium heat, uncovered until it reduces to down to 1 cup, about 20 minutes.
When shanks are tender, add 1 cup of the strained shanks cooking liquid to the remaining pomegranate juice. Plate the shanks and drizzle a little pomegranate sauce over the top, garnishing with fresh pomegranate seeds.
Tip: This dish pairs really well with a soft, creamy, Parmesan polenta. The shanks can be cooked ahead, refrigerated in the cooking liquid, then reheated, as well as the sauce.