Lamb Shanks with Figs and Pomegranate Molasses

November 4, 2011


Lamb Shanks with Figs and Pomegranate Molasses

When I saw some lamb shanks going cheap, I snapped them up then scuttled away fast before anyone remembered to make me pay through the nose for them. I’m a bit in love with the flavour of lamb cooked with sweet dried fruits, especially for a long roast or braise; this time I decided on a very ‘Peckham’ mixture of squidgy semi-dried figs and pomegranate molasses. I added a quantity of sliced onions described in my scrappy notes as ‘a shitload’, which cooked down to a caramelised base; the figs plumped and leached their sticky treasure while the pom molasses licked everything it touched with that magical, Arabian Nights perfume.

A scotch bonnet was pin pricked to gently seep heat, riding the bubbling sauce for a good 3 hours until the meat was flopping off the bone in great silky lobes; it was all I could do to get them onto the plate in one piece.

We ate it with a pomegranate and cucumber salsa because we’d eaten rather a lot already that day (the perils of recipe writing: I’d done a dhal for AoL and a quiche for the new Lurpak Christmas site) but it would be lovely with something stodgy to soak up that sauce; rice, mash or even a chunk of Middle Eastern style bread.

Lamb Shanks Braised with Figs and Pomegranate Molasses

(serves 2, although you could divide up the meat and serve 4, with sides, if you have big shanks)

2 lamb shanks
Flour, for dusting the shanks
2 large onions, sliced into half moons
4 cloves garlic, peeled
400ml stock
1 scotch bonnet
6 semi-dried figs (the squidgy, ‘ready to eat’ ones)
4 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon honey

Fresh pomegranate seeds to garnish (optional); some chopped coriander would also be nice, now I think about it.

Preheat the oven to 150C.

Cover a plate with flour and season it with salt and pepper. Roll the lamb shanks around in the flour until they are completely covered. In a large, oven proof casserole dish, heat a little oil and brown the lamb shanks well, all over.

Set the shanks aside and add the onions into the hot fat in the pan. Keep cooking and stirring until they start to colour. Add the stock, scraping around the bottom of the pan to get all the good caramelised bits to loosen then turn off the heat and add all the other ingredients plus some salt and pepper. You can cut open a few of the figs to encourage them to give forth their contents.

Put a lid on the pan and cook for about 2-3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. You can then take the lid off an reduce the sauce if you want but I was too hungry so I just drizzled a bit over and chowed on down.

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  • Avatar
    Reply Paul November 4, 2011 at 8:02 am

    “until the meat was flopping off the bone in great silky lobes”

    Brilliant! This sounds bloody fantastic.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 4, 2011 at 8:50 am

      Cheers Paul!

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    Reply Carl Legge November 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

    That sounds just delicous, will be on the menu in the coming week. I think some chickpea sourdough flat bread to accompany it. Thanks 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 4, 2011 at 9:11 am

      ooh nice accompaniment.

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    Reply Kathryn November 4, 2011 at 10:26 am

    I never thought of putting pomegranate with lamb. Brilliant!

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    Reply fourstar November 4, 2011 at 10:53 am

    This looks amazing, we’re having a new kitchen though so no oven for 3 weeks…

    …will be first on the new menu though 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 4, 2011 at 10:54 am

      3 weeks! Nightmare. When you get that shiny new oven though…I just had a new one and it is incredibly. So shiny! So clean! So easy to use!

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    Reply Mary d November 4, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    i turn into homer simpson when it comes to slow cooked lamb shanks.. not a cool look when you’re a woman!

    Thanks for another delicious recipe!!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      Homer = awesome. The end.

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    Reply Helen (another one) November 4, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Lamb shanks and pomegranate molasses, 2 of my favourite ingredients. I’ve “pinned” this for future reference 🙂

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    Reply Kavey November 6, 2011 at 8:42 am

    This sounds so unbelievably good, really really. Mmmmm!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 6, 2011 at 10:37 am

      Thanks Kavey!

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    Reply Gary @ The Greedy Fork November 6, 2011 at 10:23 pm

    I always grab lamb shanks when I see them reduced. They’re definitely my favourite cut of lamb. Favourited this for future reference 🙂

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 7, 2011 at 7:47 am

      Shame they got so expensive, eh.

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    Reply joey November 7, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Lamb shanks is one of my favorite meats ever! Love how they get all sticky and soft and luscious when treated to a long slow braise….just like this one. With figs to boot! I love it!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 7, 2011 at 7:47 am

      Cheers Joey!

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    Reply Jonathan November 8, 2011 at 9:58 am

    Brilliant stuff. Looks luscious. Love the idea of the Scotch bonnet innocently riding the the bubbling sauce.

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    Reply chutneyandspice November 8, 2011 at 11:51 am

    wonderful – this looks ideal for a sludgy November nothing day like today.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 8, 2011 at 11:53 am

      Sludgy is the right word! Miserable.

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    Reply Yasmin November 8, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    But where oh where did you find cheapo shanks???

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 8, 2011 at 3:43 pm

      GG Sparkes but I suspect it was a one off

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    Reply s November 9, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    what an incredibly beautiful way to make lamb shanks- love it. you always come up with the most amazing combinations. x s

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      Thanks Shayma! x

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    Reply Lizzie November 9, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    PHWOAR. I keep forgetting fruit with meat but I know I love it. This looks delicious. Delishlingtons.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 9, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      Delishingtons! That made me laugh out loud.

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    Reply Al November 12, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Shanks in the oven? Check. Only a couple of hours to wait…
    If this is half as good as your chilli recipe then I’m sure they will be divine!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 12, 2011 at 6:15 pm

      Ace, let me know how they turn out! *nervous*

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    Reply Al November 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    They were excellent. The scotch bonnet didn’t seem to do much. It had been in the fridge for a week though.

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Brilliant! Glad you enjoyed it. Shame about the bonnet but yeah, old ones can be tame. A nice fresh fiery one is what you want!

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    Reply A November 28, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    We just made this delicious creation and LOVED it!! Thank you!!!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen November 29, 2011 at 8:23 am

      Great! Thanks for letting me know you loved it – always lovely to hear feedback!

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    Reply jean Jackson January 22, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    What a lovely recipe! I added some red lentils to thicken the sauce a bit, and it was wonderful!

    • Avatar
      Reply Helen January 23, 2012 at 9:00 am

      Great idea jean! Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it.

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