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when a great novel inspires great cooking A classic Iranian recipe from Equal of the Sun author Anita

Amirrezvani

Lamb with Pomegranate and Saffron


2-pound lamb shank (see note below) 1 onion 5 cloves garlic Salt, pepper, and turmeric Saffron (optional) Olive oil Pure pomegranate juice (unsweetened and fairly tart is best) Note: This recipe works with a lamb shank as small as two pounds or with a whole leg of lamb. The proportions given below are for a two-pound shank, but you can easily increase the onion, garlic, and spices for a larger cut of meat. A two-pound shank will serve two-three people (much of it is bone). This is an easy recipe that is very forgiving and that allows you to add or subtract ingredients according to your own tastes. I like to make it by feel, without exact measurements, as described below. The resulting mix of flavors is savory, tangy, and very Iranian. Directions: Get two pounds of American lamb shank (bone in) and remove all the visible fat, even next to the bone. Your butcher will do this for you, if you prefer. Make holes in the lamb and insert pieces of garlic (cut about five cloves lengthwise so that they are like spikes). Cut one large onion into large thin slices. Rub the lamb with salt, pepper, turmeric and olive oil. Drench the onions in oil and lay them on top of the meat and underneath it until the meat is completely surrounded. Optional: Take a generous pinch of saffron, grind it in a mortar and pestle, put it in a small cup, add an inch of hot water and let it stand for about ten minutes. Then pour the saffron on top of the lamb. Cover the meat and let it marinate all night in the refrigerator. The next day, remove the onions, chop them very fine, and set them aside. Brown every side of the leg of lamb in a Dutch oven (if you dont have a Dutch oven, use a frying pan). Remove the lamb, put the onions in the pan, and brown them in the meat drippings until they are golden. Then put the meat back on top of the onions in the Dutch oven, or transfer the whole thing, including the juices, to a deep oven-worthy pan. Add pure pomegranate juice to the pan until the meat is surrounded by about an inch of liquid; then cover the meat (even a tent of foil will work) and put the pan in an oven preheated to 375 degrees. Cook the meat for hour; then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook your two-pound shank for at least another hour. Periodically spoon the juice over the lamb. Check to make sure that all the liquid doesnt evaporate; add more if it does. The best way to determine if the lamb is ready is to test it periodically with your fork; when the meat falls off the bone, its done. Let it stand for 15-20 minutes before serving. If you like, sprinkle fresh pomegranate seeds on top. Noosh-e-joon!