Persian Lamb Shanks
February 06, 2021
"This is a traditional recipe."
- Serving Size: 1 (537.8 g)
- Calories 281.8
- Total Fat - 21.5 g
- Saturated Fat - 8.2 g
- Cholesterol - 54.8 mg
- Sodium - 961.1 mg
- Total Carbohydrate - 8 g
- Dietary Fiber - 1.8 g
- Sugars - 3.5 g
- Protein - 14.4 g
- Calcium - 51.4 mg
- Iron - 2 mg
- Vitamin C - 13.8 mg
- Thiamin - 0.1 mg
Sprinkle shanks with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy based pot over medium high heat.
Brown shanks all over, 2 at a time; remove from pot.
Discard excess oil, clean pot if it's very dirty.
Add 1 tablespoon oil; and cook onion and garlic for 2 minutes until translucent.
Stir in the turmeric, cinnamon, tomatoes, and salt.
Add chicken broth and stir well.
Place shanks in pot, then add water as needed so the shanks are 3/4 or fully covered, but no more than 1L/4 cups water. (Note 2)
If shanks not fully submerged, make a cartouche (baking paper lid, Note 3).
Bring up to the boil; place the cartouche snugly on surface (if using), cover pot leaving a little crack (to ensure it doesn't boil over).
Turn heat down so simmering very gently.
Cook 1 1/2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.
Add cardamom and nutmeg into liquid.
Cook for another 1 hour until meat is very tender and falling off the bone.
Carefully remove meat from liquid into a bowl and cover with foil.
Simmer broth rapidly 30 - 45 min until reduced by half.
Add saffron and remaining 1/8 tsp cinnamon.
Simmer further 10 - 15 min until reduced to 2 cups; should taste like a very well seasoned, intensely savoury but lightly spiced broth.
Return meat to pot to gently reheat for a few minutes, turning and basting the meat with the liquid to keep it moist.
Serve shanks with the braising liquid as a sauce.
1. Lamb Shanks: Make sure they fit in the pot! Or - at the least the meat part.
2. Saffron Threads - a key ingredient in Persian cooking for both colour and subtle flavour. Saffron is not cheap, though it is even sold in supermarkets in the herb & spice section nowadays (at least, in Australia). If you find cheap threads, they won't be real! If it's not within your budget, use about 1/4 tsp of ground saffron powder (it's economical, not 100% saffron and is coloured but will replicate look and the taste will be close to what it should be).
3. Water level - Don't add more than 1L of water unless you really have to as it will extend the broth reducing time later.
Cartouche: Cut a round piece of parchment/baking paper to fit on top of the liquid/shanks, helps cook evenly when meat is not fully submerged. This is how I cut to size: Fold paper in half, then quarters then eighths into a pointy triangle shape. Line the centre up to the middle of the pot and snip the end lined up on the rim of the pot. Then snip a hole in the middle. Unfold and voila!
4. Other cook methods:
Slow Cooker - Do up to step 6 in a pot or skillet (including broth part, to dissolve flavour on base of pot into liquid), then cook 8 hours on low in slow cooker, no cartouche, no turning. Add cardamom and nutmeg after removing shanks (so you can "set and forget" all day). Simmer to reduce in large pot or even skillet (wider surface area = faster reduction), don't forget the extra saffron and cinnamon!
Pressure Cooker - steps per slow cooker, 40 minutes on high. No cartouche.
Instant Pot - Browning of shanks and cooking onion can be done in Instant Pot, then cook it using slow cooker or pressure cooker function using above steps.
Use leftover broth as stock for extra flavour in a soup like Lentil Soup or Lamb Shawarma Chickpea Soup.
Tips & Variations
No special items needed.