I got some lovely lamb shanks at the Addison Road Markets today and was feeling indecisive about how to flavour them. Preserved lemon? Red wine and bay leaves? Lemongrass and star anise?
I ended up making a new dish, a kind of hybrid between an Italian style braise with balsamic and bay, and a middle eastern sweet and sour stew with pomegranate molasses and tomato. The sauce was sharp and slightly sweet, a beautiful balance to the richness of the lamb shanks. The addition of anchovies, bay leaves and whole peppercorns also gave a good depth to the dish.
- Brown 3 or 4 organic lamb shanks until browned all over.
- Add some olive oil to the pan and fry a couple of squashed cloves of garlic along with some fresh bay leaves, 3 anchovies and a teaspoon of whole peppercorns.
- Add and soften a diced brown onion, a diced carrot and some finely chopped parsley stems.
- When the onions are translucent, stir through a tablespoon of pomegranate molasses and a few glugs of good balsamic vinegar such as Di Cosimo (pictured). Allow to become slightly sticky and caramelised.
- Add a tin of chopped tomatoes or passata, return the shanks to the pan, and pour over just enough good quality chicken or veal stock to cover to the lamb.
- Reduce the heat to barely a simmer, and place the lid on slightly askew.
- Cook for 2-3 hours or until the sauce is slightly thickened and the meat is just about falling off the bone.
- Season to taste; top with finely chopped parsley if desired.
I served mine with a rich, buttery risotto made with plenty of pecorino – it balanced the piquant sauce perfectly.