Lamb Shanks braised in a well seasoned, lightly spiced broth until meltingly tender. This slow cooked Persian Lamb Shank recipe is a traditional Persian recipe and it’s the main dish of this weeks’ Persian Feast!
Welcome back to PERSIAN WEEK! This week it’s all about the aromatic smells and flavours of Persian food, the bright colours and the chest puffing as you airily tell your family and friends “oh, we’re just having a Persian Feast tonight.”
(Their eyes boggle, they clap their hands with glee, they think you are the most amazing cook ever and we tell no one that all the recipes are actually quite straightforward to make.)
So here’s what’s on the menu for your Persian Feast:
- Today’s Persian Lamb Shank recipe – the main event! Braised until fall apart tender in a beautiful aromatic broth. Incredibly easy with every day spices you’ll find at any supermarket!
- Persian Saffron Rice – that golden, crispy beauty… and it tastes as amazing as it looks!!!
- Persian Cucumber Tomato Salad (see notes of this Lamb Shanks recipe)- lovely and fresh, with a little sprinkle of Sumac for a touch of Persian exoticness; and
- Persian L♥ve Cake (coming Friday)- made with semolina and almond meal, it’s soaked with a lemon-rosewater syrup with a hint of citrus and spice flavours. Officially in loooove with the Persian Looooove cake!
EASY BRAISED LAMB SHANKS
I promised easy, and easy you shall get. There’s nothing tricky in the steps and nor are there any hard to find ingredients in this, you’ll find everything at everyday supermarkets.
The only step below you might be wondering about is step 5 where the liquid is covered with parchment/baking paper. This is called a cartouche and it’s a cheffy technique of using paper as a lid for slow cooked recipes.
Like a lid, it slows down the rate of liquid evaporation but in addition to this, it encourages the even distribution of heat and stops a skin forming on the surface. It’s used commonly in some cuisines – including Japanese cooking!
It’s an optional step in this recipe that I recommend only if the liquid level doesn’t cover the lamb shanks.
AND I PROMISED FALL APART
I promised easy and I promised fall apart, because that’s the only way lamb shanks should be. They are a tough cut of meat so they have to be cooked slowly to break down all those fibres!
The sauce for these lamb shanks is the braising liquid that is reduced down for quite some time once the lamb shanks are removed so the flavour is intensified. I love the golden hue of the sauce from the saffron!
And in case you are wondering (because I was), the sauce is not thickened in anyway and that’s the way it is supposed to be. 🙂
I love a good lamb shank, and I have to say, this Persian Lamb Shank recipe is definitely a shank worthy. Persians know good food!!! – Nagi x
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a visual, so watch me make this Persian Lamb Shank recipe!
Recipe video above. A traditional Persian dish - fall apart lamb shanks with a well seasoned, delicately flavoured broth. Pair this with the iconic Persian Tachin (baked saffron rice), a Persian chopped salad and finish with a Persian Love Cake to complete your Persian feast!
- 4 lamb shanks , about 300g/10oz each (Note 1)
- Salt and pepper
- 1 - 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or canola)
- 1 large onion , sliced (yellow, brown)
- 6 cloves garlic , chopped
- 1 litre / 4 cups water
- 500 ml / 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 medium tomatoes , chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp + 1/8 tsp cardamom powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp extra cinnamon , extra for later
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads (Note 2)
Sprinkle shanks with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tbsp 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 tbsp oil. 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 1.5 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 500 ml / 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. Pictured garnished with pomegranate seeds (leftover from salad, see Notes) or mint leaves, for visual only.
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. Persian Chopped Salad - When I went to write it up, I couldn't find the photos, I think I accidentally deleted them! So here's the recipe only. You can see it in the Persian Feast photos and on the side of the lamb shanks on the plate.
5. 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. We don't have IP's in Australia yet but we've had a version of IP for decades called the Breville Fast-Slow Cooker which works the same as IP's for the saute-slow-pressure cooker multi functions.
6. Nutrition per serving. Calories higher than reality because it assumes all the broth will be consumed which it will not be. Shanks are actually mostly bone, and while it's an incredibly tender cut of meat once slowly cooked, it's not that fatty.
LIFE OF DOZER
Photo from the golden retriever dog boarder. Apparently Dozer is crushing on a curvy lab called Crystal. He likes her so much, she makes his ears flap like Dumbo.