On Saturday night Tommy and I had our friends Kerry and Marcus over for dinner. Kerry and I went to high school together in Cairo, Egypt. She and I both ended up going back to Cairo the year we graduated college for different reasons. She was already engaged to Marcus when they came to Cairo and Tommy and I had recently just started dating. Eight years later, graduate school and work brought them to the D.C. area this past summer. Small world!
The menu I had prepared for our dinner was:
- Pomegranate-Merlot Braised Lamb Shanks
- Kale and Feta Salad
- Brownie and Oreo Mix with Iced Cream (courtesey of Kerry and Marcus).
I was told the entire dinner was delicious, but the obvious star of the show were the lamb shanks!
Pomegranate-Merlot Braised Lamb Shanks
- 4 1/2 lb. (2.25 kg) lamb shanks
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 3 Tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 1 Tbs. minced garlic
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. allspice
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) Merlot
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) pomegranate juice
- 2 Tbs. honey
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) chicken broth
- 6 carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup (2 oz./60 g) pomegranate seeds
- Cooked couscous for serving
Season the lamb shanks with salt and pepper. In the stovetop-safe insert of a slow cooker over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the oil. Working in 2 batches, brown the lamb on all sides, 7 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter.
Warm 1 Tbs. oil in the insert. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste, thyme, cinnamon, cumin, allspice and bay leaf and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the wine and pomegranate juice and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the honey, broth, salt, pepper and lamb.
Transfer the insert to the slow-cooker base. Cover and cook on high according to the manufacturer’s instructions for 3 hours. Add the carrots and cook until the lamb is tender, about 1 hour more.
Transfer the lamb and carrots to a large platter. Skim the excess fat off the sauce. Set the insert over high heat and boil until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the vinegar. Pour the sauce over the lamb and sprinkle with the parsley and pomegranate seeds. Serve immediately with couscous. Serves 6.
Kale and Feta Salad
- 2 large bunches of Tuscan kale
- 2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp salt, black pepper to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6 oz. crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Wash kale; chop into bite-size strips, discarding stems; set aside
Combine shallots, lemon juice, salt and pepper; slowly whisk in olive oil to thicken
In a large salad bowl, toss kale and feta; coat with dressing