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Pomegranate Ginger Saffron Braised Lamb Neck

My friend Lisa and I were out and about the other day, when we happened to wander past the farmers’ market at Union Square at around 5:45 pm. Most of the stalls were already gone, or were in the process of packing up to leave. We passed one of the few remaining open stalls, which sold lamb. A bit further on, there was another open stall, which also sold lamb. We turned around the corner to find yet another remaining stall, also selling lamb.

What could we do? We bought lamb. Lots of lamb.

I know, I know. I have been posting quite a lot of lamb recipes lately. I’m thinking I should just give up and rename the blog LambBlog: All Lamb, All the Time.

If you do not like lamb, this dish is not for you. But if you love that intense, glorious flavor that good lamb has, that which sets it apart from all other meat, give this recipe a go. Lamb neck is one of the most flavorful cuts you can find, though it does take some time and effort and messiness to pick all the meat off the bone.

That’s the thing about cooking meat on the bone. It ends up so much more flavorful, and you pay for that flavor in the hassle of devouring it. On the other hand, if you find it fun to pick meat off of bones, this is entirely a win-win situation. That’s where I stand.

(Well. If you don’t want the hassle, you could always just make this recipe with chunks of boneless leg of lamb instead of the neck slices. That would be lovely, too.)

The braise is tart and intoxicatingly vibrant, with the bite of the ginger and that lovely thrumming low note of saffron throughout, and the pomegranate as the structural element that ties it all together.

(This will be my last lamb post for a while. I promise.)

Note: I’ve actually made this recipe with brisket or lambshanks instead of lamb neck several times since originally posting it, and it’s been an even bigger hit with those.

Pomegranate Ginger Saffron Braised Lamb Neck
3 slices lamb neck (about 1 lb)
4 big cloves of garlic, finely chopped
An equal amount ginger, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tsp cardamom
1 big pinch saffron threads
1 C beef stock (or enough to come up halfway up the meat)
2 dried birdseye chilis
1 tsp honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

There isn’t too much meat on a lamb’s neck, so this recipe makes three snacks or maybe one real meal. It should scale up well, though.

Trim the outer layer of fat from the lamb neck slices, if you like (I do). Generously cover them in salt and pepper, then sear them until nice and brown in a pan on the stovetop. Set aside. Put the ginger and garlic into the pan and stir-fry them until fragrant. Deglaze with the stock.

Mix all ingredients together in a Chinese sand pot (or other good thick-bottomed pot). Cover and braise over low heat for a few hours, or until tender and done.

Chill and skim off the fat before gently reheating.

These should be eaten at home, with family and dear friends, where you can make a mess and eat with your hands and smear sauce everywhere in an attempt to pick every last shred of meat off the vertebrae.

Note: If you scale this recipe up, be sure not to increase the quantity of liquid in proportion to the rest of the ingredients. If you do, the meat will boil instead of braising, and the texture will, strangely, end up being too dry.

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14 Responses to “Pomegranate Ginger Saffron Braised Lamb Neck”

  1. Yvo says:

    OH MY GOD!! I admit, I was skimming because it isn’t my kind of recipe. I know you aren’t offended. But then I read the note and OH MY GOD. I made pot roast a while back and totally did not understand. And still kind of don’t understand why, despite having an abundance of liquid, the darn meat was tender but dry. http://feistyfoodie.blogspot.com/2006/12/weekend-project-pot-roast.html Since I may make something like this in the future, any suggestions on how to eyeball the ratio of liquid to meat? In this case, if I recall correctly, I tried to cover the meat with the liquid since it was an entire roast… I had a tall stock pot. Thanks! (I feel so much better that I’m not crazy…)

  2. Brilynn says:

    I love lamb so I’m quite happy to have all lamb, all the time.

  3. Danielle says:

    Yvo – That’s the problem, right there! You never want to cover the meat entirely with liquid in a braise. Cover it halfway at most, is my sense. Or even less than that. You need so much less liquid than you’d expect, it’s remarkable. (And you’re right, I’m not at all offended. I know you don’t like lamb. But I am surprised and pleased that you got something useful out of this post, anyway!)

    Brilynn – You are a woman after my own heart.

  4. Yvo says:

    Thank you so much Danielle! But wouldn’t having let’s say, an inch or so of liquid kind of… I don’t know, with the lid on, really steam the meat as opposed to braise? I guess I would keep turning it every hour or so. Thank you… you have no idea how much better I feel about the whole thing since it took 8 hours and I was like, yes, tasty, but why so dry?! Ah….

  5. Danielle says:

    Yvo – You don’t have to turn it. Just make sure it’s sealed tightly, maybe even putting in a crumpled piece of wet parchment paper right over the meat before putting the lid on the pot. The steaming is part of what makes it a braise.

  6. [...] hosted a fairly non-traditional seder this year. We served pomegranate ginger saffron brisket, striped bass, pear and watercress salad, and a scattered array of other dishes, including this [...]

  7. Jason says:

    Just stumbled across this looking for a leg-o-lamb recipe to use my pomegranate molasses with. I think I’ll be giving this a try for Easter. Thanks!

    Here’s another recipe I make with lamb and pomegranate molasses. Stitched together from a couple of recipe books and my Mom’s memory of what my grandmother used to do, and my tastebuds’ memory of the same.

    Fowleh – Syrian String bean Stew

    (3/4 to 1 lb ground lamb or beef)
    ¼ c vegetable oil (reduce or omit if using meat)
    1 ½ cup chopped yellow onion
    2 tsp minced garlic (or more!)
    4 six-oz cans unsalted tomato paste (or ~3 large cans of diced tomato, or half and half)
    6 c cold water (omit or reduce if using canned tomato)
    2 lb string beans, fresh or defrosted
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    1 tsp ground allspice
    2 tsp Syrian pepper – a mixed seasoning that includes allspice and lots of other things I can’t pick out, probably cardamom, cloves, etc. – just smells like a spice market
    1 tsp Aleppo pepper – mild pepper similar to Ancho or paprika
    1 tsp salt (or less)
    Several grindings black pepper (or more)
    2-4 tsp pomegranate molasses

    1. If using meat, cook in pan until it just begins to brown. Add oil (if using) and onions, and cook until meat is fully cooked and onions are soft. Add garlic and cook one minute, stirring continually. (Don’t burn that garlic!)

    2. Combine the tomato paste with the water and add to pan. (Or just add canned tomato.) Add string beans. Mix well, cover, and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and watch for burning.

    3. After 30 minutes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cook for another 60-90 minutes, stirring often, until everything is fully cooked and the beans are very soft. If you’re using an oven-safe pot, this last 60-90 minutes can be done in a 325-degree oven. This means you don’t have to stir it, and there’s less chance of scorching. Taste, correct seasonings if necessary. Sauce can be thinned with ¼ – ½ c water if needed. Serve over rice. Pita and hummus make a nice accompaniment

  8. Danielle says:

    Jason – That recipe looks fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  9. CC says:

    Danielle,What is pomegranate molasses?

  10. Danielle says:

    CC – Pomegranate molasses is a thick, condensed pomegranate syrup. It is extremely tart and flavorful. You can pick it up ethnic food markets that sell Middle Eastern condiments. I buy mine at Sahadi’s on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

  11. Mary says:

    Do you think this could be done in a crock pot?

  12. Pomegranate braised lamb shanks with creamy leek and potato…

    This recipe is heavily inspired by Danielle’s Pomegranate ginger saffron braised lamb neck on Habeas Brulee.
    But it’s made with lamb shanks.
    And the method is a little different.
    And I was out of beef stock.

    Here’s what happened: …

  13. [...] related to pomegranates, I had already stumbled accross Habeas Brûlée’s great recipes for Pomegranate Ginger Saffron Braised Lamb Neck. Buzz was sold for the huge piece of meat (although probably any meat would have done), I fell for [...]

  14. You’re welcome; and thank you for posting so many delicious recipes! Rest assured, you will hear from me again :o)

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