2 lamb shanks
1 cup Merlot
1 cup pomegranate juice
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1 shallot, diced
salt and pepper
Rinse and dry the shanks. Rub them with plenty of oregano, rosemary, salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a dutch oven and brown them well. Remove them from the pot and add the shallots and garlic. Saute them till soft then add the wine, scrap up the fond, reduce the heat and let it simmer till it doesn't smell boozy. Add a pinch of salt, the juice and the lamb. Cover it and let it cook for 2-3 hours, till the lamb is very tender. Remove the meat, turn up the heat and let the liquid reduce for a bit. Serve with the sauce.
I love lamb. I sometimes suggest to my girlfriend that we have it. This leads to fights. Often quite gruesome ones, involving flashing blades, furious gun play and mad nunchuck skills. The inevitable conclusion is my girlfriend with a knife to my throat, a pistol to my temple or a chair leg poised to deliver the finishing blow. I croak out something like "All right, chicken!" and then she allows me to cook dinner.
Ok, so that never happens. But she really doesn't like lamb and I rarely do serious cooking for just myself. I get it at any Greek festival I happen to go to and order it at restaurants, but I hadn't actually made it before this. Then my girlfriend comes home with a package of shanks. Isn't she sweet? I pop them into the freezer and await an appropriate moment. And that moment was yesterday when she was going out to dinner with people from work. So I pull out the lamb to thaw and consult my sources (the internet, one of my brothers and my mom. The sister I called wasn't home and apparently doesn't eat lamb anyway.) Then I made this.
The first thing I decided was to keep it simple, I find that makes it harder to screw up. Shanks are best braised and I had some pomegranate juice, so I decided to use that. Wine is always good for braising, so I grabbed some Merlot. Garlic, oregano and rosemary are classic lamb seasonings so those were in. And I had a shallot that wanted using, so that finished it off. I took the lamb and dried it off. I really should have rinsed it first, but I didn't. Anyway, I rubbed it with a goodly amount of salt, pepper, rosemary and oregano. Next time I'm going to use a little more, I think. This is also a recipe that you want to use dried herbs for, they are best for slow cooking. I browned up the shanks, removed them from the pot and added the shallot and garlic. I didn't cut the garlic too small since it was going to break down over the several hours of cooking. I sauteed them till they were soft and then added the wine and juice. This was a mistake, I should have added just the wine and let it reduce a bit first to get rid of the alcohol flavor/smell, then added the juice. Then back in went the lamb and I realized I needed more liquid, so when I added the wine wouldn't have mattered anyway. Then the cover went on and it simmered for about three hours. You could do this in the oven, but I prefer to do things on the stove. Plus my dutch oven barely fits in my tiny real oven. I removed the lamb and reduced the liquid a bit to use as a sauce. I had it with some brown rice that I put a little garlic and onion in. They aren't really that pretty, but they were very tasty. So that's it, Merlot pomegranate braised lamb shanks. It was quite good, the tart/sweet juice and the strong flavors of the wine and lamb went really well together. The shanks were falling apart and very moist. It would be good with beef too, maybe brisket. Next time I make it I'm going to use more herbs, like I had mentioned, but other than the amounts I don't think I'd change anything else.