Braised American Lamb Shanks with Chickpeas, Pine Nuts, Pomegranate Seeds, and Yogurt

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  • Lamb Shanks
  • 6 (1-1/4 pounds each) American Lamb shanks
  • 1/2 cup lamb seasoning mix (1/4 cup salt, 1/8 cup freshly ground black pepper, 1/8 cup ground sumac)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 quarts mirepoix (2 parts diced onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot)
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 1 liter Shiraz or other fruit-forward red wine
  • 1 gallon veal or lamb stock  
  • Garnish
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach, sautéed until just wilted in olive oil
  • 12 to 18 pita bread triangles, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with za’atar* to taste and lightly toasted  
  • 1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 6 sliced radishes
  • 1 small bunch mint leaves, roughly chopped  
  • Chickpeas
  • 3 cups dried chickpeas
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Water
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups finely diced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon curry powde
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cheesecloth sachet of coriander seed, thyme, and bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  
  • Pine Nut Mixture
  • 1 cup toasted pine nuts
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

“The benefit of American lamb is that it’s a balanced combination of mainly grass-fed and some grain-fed meat, giving it a great amount of fat, a fuller flavor, and a good amount of natural tenderness.” Ris Lacoste, chef/owner of RIS

Yield: 6 servings 

Lamb Shanks/Garnish

  1. Rub a generous amount of the seasoning mix into the shanks; refrigerate overnight, uncovered.
  2. When ready to braise, preheat oven to 325ºF.
  3. Rinse the shanks and dry with paper towels. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over braising pan; add a thin layer of oil. Sear shanks on all sides until well-browned; remove shanks, set aside.
  4. Add the mirepoix, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, and peppercorns; let sit to caramelize, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add tomato paste; cook 1-2 minutes. Add wine to deglaze, scraping the bottom of the pan; continue to cook until reduced by one-half. Return shanks to the pan; add enough stock to just cover the shanks. Bring to a boil; transfer to oven. Cook, uncovered, about 2 to 2-1/4 hours. The meat should be tender but not overcooked. While cooking, the exposed parts of the shank should crust up; halfway through cooking, turn the shanks to caramelize and flavor the stock.
  6. Remove lamb from oven; cover and allow to rest in the cooking liquid, about 10 to15 minutes. Strain stock and reduce to sauce consistency in a saucepan over medium-high heat; season to taste with salt, if needed.
  7. To serve, divide spinach, chickpeas, and pita crisps evenly among bowls; top with a dollop of yogurt. Add a shank; sprinkle with pomegranate seeds, radishes, mint, and pine nut mixture.  

*za’atar is a blend of Middle Eastern herbs and spices, typically dried oregano, thyme, marjoram, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and occasionally sumac, cumin, coriander, and/or fennel seeds.


  1. Sprinkle peas with baking soda, cover with water in a large bowl, and soak overnight.
  2. Drain and rinse beans. In a heavy-bottomed pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until soft and translucent. Add curry and turmeric and stir; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Add cheesecloth sachet; cover chickpeas with water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until chickpeas are tender, about 45 minutes. Skim top film occasionally. Adjust seasoning if needed.

Pine Nut Mixture

  1. Combine all ingredients except oil to a large bowl; stir. Add oil just to cover.