As with most braises, you can make this all the night before and reheat it before serving. If you do, strain all the solids from the braising liquid so you can skim away the solid disk of fat that forms after a night in the refrigerator, then add the sauce back to the lamb and dried fruit in a Dutch oven to reheat in a 300° oven.
- Yield:serves 6 people
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:4 1/2 hours
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 3 large lamb shanks (about 2 1/2 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons coriander seed, freshly ground
- 2 teaspoons cumin seed, freshly ground
- 1 teaspoon half-sharp paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 6 allspice berries, freshly ground
- 5 cardamom pods, freshly ground
- 5 chiles de arbol
- 3 3-inch sticks of cinnamon
- 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 1 cup dried plums (prunes)
- 1/2 cup candied ginger, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- Juice of one or two lemons (or to taste), for serving
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or balsamic vinegar), for serving
Preheat oven to 300°F. Heat a 5-6 quart Dutch oven on medium-high heat for three minutes, then add oil. Meanwhile, salt lamb shanks liberally—two to three teaspoons kosher salt per shank. When oil shimmers, brown shanks in oil, in batches, if necessary, until lightly browned on all sides (you do not need a dark sear for this dish).
Set shanks aside on a plate and add all spices except saffron to pot. Stir frequently to coat with fat until spices become intensely aromatic, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add chicken broth, scraping browned bits off bottom of pan, then apricots, plums, candied ginger, and saffron. Stir to combine, then arrange lamb shanks in a single layer in bottom of pot.
Cover with a heavy, well-fitted lid (or use a sheet of aluminum foil under the lid) and transfer pot to oven and braise for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until shanks are meltingly tender and offer a paring knife no resistance.
Transfer shanks to a serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Strain braising liquid and transfer apricots, plums, and candied ginger to serving platter. Let strained liquid sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, then strain fat. Pour over lamb at the table, with a generous squeeze of lemon juice and a light drizzle of pomegranate molasses, to taste.