Braised Persian-Style Lamb Shanks with Quince
Lobel Brothers | Yield: 4
The cinnamon, cardamom and turmeric in this rich lamb braise will perfume your kitchen and warm your belly.
- 3 to 3 1/2 pounds Lamb Shanks
- 3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, ends removed, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely-ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 3 cups water
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium quinces, peeled, cored and cut into wedges about 1/2-inch-thick at the widest point
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 generous pinches saffron threads, crumbled and dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
- 1/3 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
- Lime wedges (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Sprinkle the lamb on all sides with a scant tablespoon of kosher salt. Heat the oil in a wide, heavy 10- to 14-quart ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the lamb (in batches if necessary) and cook until golden brown on two sides, 5 to 6 minutes per side, reducing the heat if they threaten to burn. Transfer to a plate and reserve.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until pale gold at the edges, for 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt, and the water, scraping to loosen any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
- Return the lamb shanks and any juices on the plate to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and transfer to the oven and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 250 degrees F and continue to cook another 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When the foam subsides, add quince wedges, tossing to coat with butter, and cook until lightly browned on both sides, about 10 minutes total, reducing the heat if they threaten to burn. Transfer to a small bowl and reserve.
- After the lamb has cooked for 1 1/2 hours total, transfer the pot to the stove top and skim most of the fat from the surface. In a small bowl, dissolve the brown sugar in the lime juice and stir into the lamb. Stir in the saffron water, the reserved quince and the split peas, making sure the peas are submerged. Return liquid to a simmer, cover and return to the oven and cook until the split peas are just tender but still a bit firm and holding their shape, for 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the age and type of peas.
- Transfer the pot to the stove top and let the stew rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes. The stew should be quite fluid but lightly thickened from the peas; it should be richly flavored and mildly sweet and sour. If necessary, simmer for up to 10 minutes more to concentrate the flavors. Skim again and add salt to taste, if needed, by shaking the pot to and fro to distribute it, taking care not to break up the meat and pieces of fruit. Divide lamb, quince, and sauce between serving bowls and serve garnished with lime wedges, if you like.