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Slow Braised Pomegranate Lamb Shanks

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Easy but takes some time

Slow Braised Pomegranate Lamb Shanks

Slow braised pomegranate lamb shanks | Something New For Dinner

These slow braised pomegranate lamb shanks are perfect for Valentine's Day or your next dinner party. They can be easily made for 2 or 12, assuming you have a Dutch oven large enough to hold the shanks in a single layer. These shanks are gorgeous; your kitchen will smell amazing while they are cooking; and your guests and loved ones will think you worked all day. Fortunately, not so. These glossy beauties are so easy and simple you will think you are missing a step or an ingredient.
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The Delights of Denver's RiNo District

Denver's RiNo district | Something New For Dinner
Walking around RiNo and the surrounding areas is fun way to see the street art
This is the long story of how this pomegranate recipe came to be. My daughter Lauren and her husband Cam live in Denver in the very hip RiNo district, short for RIver NOrth, also called River North Arts District. The neighborhood is the creative rebirth of a defunct industrial area that caught the eye of a variety of artists in the late 90's. Today it is a mecca for creatives and is booming with restaurants, breweries, art galleries, cool hotels, tech start ups, music, food trucks, small-batch coffee roasters, outdoor gear retailers, co-op work spaces and larger than life community art murals. It is literally millennial heaven. RiNo OMF Brewery | Something New For Dinner
Our Mutual Friends Brewery is one of my daughter's favorite in RiNo
  Out of all the things RiNo has to offer, restaurants are what particularly grab my attention. Go figure! There is at least one new restaurant every time we visit and we get to RiNo a few times a year. From casual and edgy to chic and pricy, there are some wonderful places to choose from. For a tasty, healthy breakfast or lunch go to Stowaway. I'm in love with their Scram breakfast sandwich. For the best sushi dinner I have ever eaten go to Uchi. I know, it is counter intuitive to eat fish in land-locked Denver, but trust me this place is awesome. WSJ says "Best sushi this side of Japan." Trip Advisor praises Uchi as "the 4th best restaurant in the U.S." Chef Tyson Cole now has seven restaurants so you can also eat at Uchi and her sister restaurants in Austin and Houston.

Inspired by Alon Shaya

That is the background story on how this recipe came to be. On our last trip to RiNo Lauren took us to chef Alon Shaya's Safta, an Israeli restaurant. And OMG, what a delicious feast we had. Their hummus is unspeakably good and comes with a variety of delectable toppings. Eat the hummus with their wood fired puffy pita bread and you really don't need much else, except a nice glass of wine. We, of course, went big and ordered an array of dishes to share. The stand out dish was their braised pomegranate lamb shank. The enormous shank arrived bathed in an aromatic, dark glossy sauce and was fork-tender. Braised lamb shanks are wonderful and I have a classic wine-braised osso buco-style recipe that has been a favorite on SNFD for years, but the pomegranate lamb shank at Safta is truly unique. Safta resaurant RiNO Denver | Something New For Dinner
The kitchen at Safta where delicious things are made
I pestered our waiter for how it is prepared and he shared that it was made with orange juice, pomegranate syrup and a bit of brown sugar. That was all I needed. I came home and immediately went to the store and bought some lamb shanks, fresh orange juice and refreshed my supply of pomegranate syrup. I nailed the recipe on the first try and so will you. Thank you Alon Shaya for this very delicious pomegranate lamb preparation and to the waiter who shared the simple ingredients with me. I would have added wine to the braise if left to my own devices, but found it was not needed one bit. I've also added garlic and rosemary to the braising liquids. Skip it and keep it simple.

Make Pomegranate Lamb Shanks Ahead of Time

If you want, you can make these pomegranate lamb shanks a day in advance. Sear and braise the lamb, then remove them from the sauce and store them in the fridge. Strain the cooking liquid and store it separately in a container in the fridge. When you are ready to make the sauce, skim the fat off the top that has solidified and then follow the recipe instructions to reduce and thicken the sauce. Warm the shanks in a 250 degree oven. When the shanks are hot, plate them, brush them with the sauce and garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped mint.

What to Serve With Serve Pomegranate Lamb Shanks

Slow braised pomegranate lamb shanks | Something New For Dinner I developed a delicious side dish to serve with this lamb: Fully Loaded Israeli Couscous Salad. It starts with Israeli couscous and a bevy of dried & fresh fruit, nuts, herbs and either arugula or baby spinach. The salad is tossed in with a citrus dressing. I like to plate the lamb on a bed of arugula and then mound the couscous around the lamb. This couscous can be made a day or two ahead of time and comes together in about half an hour. Read the recipe to learn what Israeli couscous is and how it differs from North African couscous.   Print

Slow Braised Pomegranate Lamb Shanks

These intensely flavorful lamb shanks are slow braised in orange juice and pomegranate syrup. The recipe can be made for a special dinner for two or can be expanded for a large dinner party.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern


  • Olive oil
  • 4 lamb shanks
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cups fresh orange juice (don’t use cheap concentrated oj for this recipe)
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 T butter or ghee (optional)
  • 1 cup pomegranate seeds for garnish
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Rub the shanks with a bit of olive oil and season the lamb chops with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Heat a large heavy bottomed pan such as a Le Creuset Dutch oven, and when it is hot add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the lamb shanks and sear the lamb on all sides. Make sure you do not overcrowd the pot while you sear or the meat will steam and not sear properly. Sear in batches if need be. 
  2. Remove the shanks and set aside to rest on a plate. Add the onion and briefly cook until onion begins to color. Add orange juice, pomegranate molasses, brown sugar and a cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil and add the lamb shanks, turning so they are well coated with the sauce. The shanks should be in a single layer. Bring back to a boil and remove from the stove top. Cover with a lid and place in the oven. Cook for 2 hours until the lamb is fork tender. The time may vary a bit depending on the size of your shanks. 
  3. Remove the shanks from the pot and place on a platter. Cover with foil while you make the sauce. Strain the cooking liquid through a mesh strainer into a large measuring cup. Ladle off any excess oil that floats to the top. Return the strained liquid to the pan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook until the sauce is reduced and thickened, stirring periodically. An option is to add a bit of butter to the sauce. It is nice, but it is not imperative. If you do, remove the thickened sauce from the heat and whisk in 1-2 tablespoons of butter. 
  4. Spoon the sauce over the lamb shanks and garnish with pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley. 

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  1. Charlie says:

    How much should each of the shanks weigh?

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Charlie,

      It basically comes down to what your butcher has to offer. Lamb shanks are typically around a pound each, but can be as small as 3/4 of a pound or as big as 2 pounds. I personally go for the largest ones I can find. They look huge, but they are mostly bone, and if you have a little leftover the next day you won’t be sad.

  2. meldbel says:

    hi, thank you. just came across your awesome recipes. can i make this ahead of my guests arriving? if made it a couple of hours before and reheated with the grill above, pouring the sauce at that stage. also, instead of the dutch oven, can i bake it in the oven, covering the dish with foil?

    1. Kim Pawell says:

      Hi Melanie, Let’s take your questions one-by-one. 1) Yes, you can make this in advance. Even a day in advance. I think there is a pretty good chance it will get better as flavors meld in the fridge. You can also make the sauce a day in advance and then heat it and paint the warmed up lamb shanks with the sauce before serving. 2) This is not a grilled dish, it is slow cooked in the oven. To reheat I would put it back in the oven on 250 to 300 to bring it back to temperature. 3) A Dutch oven is merely a heavy bottomed, covered cast-iron pot that goes in your regular oven. I know the term Dutch oven can be confusing. It is just a great pot for slow cooking. See my post on Cast Iron Enameled Dutch Ovens for more information. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, opt for a heavy bottomed pan with a lid. If you do not have a lid, you might try using multiple layers of foil tightly sealed over a cast iron skillet. The reason for the lid is the meat slow cooks in the steam under the lid, a single layer of foil may not due the trick.

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