Braised Lamb Shanks in Cranberry

Braised lamb shank with cranberries and black cardamom

Winter has officially arrived in NYC and I had to detour into the local zoo Century 21 on my way to Whole Foods to pick up some leather gloves today. Despite ranking up there along with crowded department stores on the things I like least about New York, cold weather is the perfect excuse to leave the stove on all afternoon braising away a bone-on chunk of protein like these gorgeous lamb shanks.

Cranberries and lamb shanks

The slow cooking turns the tough lamb shanks into a sublime matrix of tender moist meat and lip coating collagen. Tart cranberries serve to offset the rib-sticking richness of the shanks and the tangy cranberry juice melds with the lamb liquid to form a rich sauce that’s loaded with umami and accented with cumin, cloves and garlic.

Slow cooked Lamb Shanks with cranberries, onions, cumin and black cardamom

The lynchpin to this whole dish though is the black cardamom. Unlike green cardamom, the darker sibling has an intensely smokey meat-like flavor with just a hint of camphor, lending these shanks a savouriness that’s reminiscent of bacon. While I thought I was black cardamom newbie, it turns out I’ve been using it under its Chinese name tsao-ko for some time. If you don’t have an Indian grocer near by, try looking for it in a Chinese or Vietnamese market.

It’s come to my attention that my my food is too complicated for some people. If that sounds like you, this dish is for you, as it literally takes 10 minutes of prep, after which you can go about your day with the only sign of your culinary endeavors being the apartment warming heat emanating from the kitchen… well that and the dreamy aroma that will perfume your entire home and have the neighbor’s dogs barking in frothy envy.

Lamb shanks nestled in cranberries and black cardamom

I also know some of you guys have been asking to see more in-kitchen shots. Getting the proper lighting setup in the kitchen has been too time consuming for most of my weeknight projects, but I can’t use that excuse anymore as this is my first post using shots from my new toy. Because of its better low-light sensitivity I should be able to do more in-kitchen shots despite the dungeon-like lighting by the stove.

Braised Lamb Shanks in Cranberry

3 lbs lamb shanks
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
10 cloves
2 pods, black cardamom
2 cloves garlic minced
1 1/2″ knob of ginger grated
2 onions minced
3 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs kosher salt (less if you use regular salt)
12 oz bag of fresh cranberries

Generously salt and pepper the lamb shanks. Heat a large heavy bottomed pot with a lid on medium high heat until very hot, then add a splash of oil. Sear the shanks until golden brown on all sides. Turn down the heat if the oil starts smoking. When the shanks are browned, transfer them to a plate.

Add the cumin, cloves and black cardamom and swirl in the oil until you start to hear them pop. Add the garlic, ginger, onions, sugar, and salt and fry until soft and very fragrant. Add the cranberries, stir together, then nestle the lamb shanks into the cranberries and onions. Turn the heat down to low and cover with a tight fitting lid. Let this braise for 2-3 hours or until the meat easily pulls off the bone with a fork.

Serve with rice.

  • http://slwbicycle.blogspot.com/2009/04/traditional-italian-pasta-carbonara.html Gina – The Gluten-Free Gourman

    I love braised lamb. I’ve never thought of doing a cranberry sauce – beautiful!

  • http://slwbicycle.blogspot.com/2009/04/traditional-italian-pasta-carbonara.html Gina – The Gluten-Free Gourmand

    I love braised lamb. I’ve never thought of doing a cranberry sauce – beautiful!

  • http://www.sense-serendipity.blogspot.com/ Divina

    They look absolutely amazing and delicious. Love the addition of cranberries.

  • http://www.sense-serendipity.blogspot.com Divina

    They look absolutely amazing and delicious. Love the addition of cranberries.

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    Seriously I so have cranberries and lamb right now in my kitchen stock of ingredients…hubby is going to love this! You have inspired me once again…

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    Seriously I so have cranberries and lamb right now in my kitchen stock of ingredients…hubby is going to love this! You have inspired me once again…

  • http://www.tasteslikehome.org/ Cynthia

    You make me wanna go run to the supermarket and get me some shanks!

  • http://www.tasteslikehome.org Cynthia

    You make me wanna go run to the supermarket and get me some shanks!

  • http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/ Pei-Lin

    This dish looks smackinglicious!! Love the addition of cranberries! Too bad they’re rather expensive here … I’d love to incorporate more of them into my cooking/baking if only they were cheaper …

    Love your work! Keep it up yea?

    Cheers from Malaysia,
    Pei-Lin

  • http://dodol-mochi.blogspot.com/ Pei-Lin

    This dish looks smackinglicious!! Love the addition of cranberries! Too bad they’re rather expensive here … I’d love to incorporate more of them into my cooking/baking if only they were cheaper …

    Love your work! Keep it up yea?

    Cheers from Malaysia,
    Pei-Lin

  • http://anediblesymphony.blogspot.com/ Muneeba

    Gorgeous and luscious .. I adore lamb shanks .. just wish they were more readily available! So cool to see black cardamom being used in this dish; I always have it in my pantry.

  • http://anediblesymphony.blogspot.com Muneeba

    Gorgeous and luscious .. I adore lamb shanks .. just wish they were more readily available! So cool to see black cardamom being used in this dish; I always have it in my pantry.

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca/ Peter

    I do not thrive well in Winter but making warm, comforting braises like this keep me sane!

    Good luck with some goat meat, you’ll love it.

  • http://www.kalofagas.ca Peter

    I do not thrive well in Winter but making warm, comforting braises like this keep me sane!

    Good luck with some goat meat, you’ll love it.

  • http://www.shesimmers.com/ Leela@SheSimmers

    ” … a sublime matrix of tender moist meat and lip coating collagen …”

    That’s it. I’m off to buy some lamb.

  • http://www.shesimmers.com Leela@SheSimmers

    ” … a sublime matrix of tender moist meat and lip coating collagen …”

    That’s it. I’m off to buy some lamb.

  • http://colloquialcooking.com/ Colloquial Cook

    Terrific pictures, and, …dare I admit I am a black cardamom virgin? Your shanks (I mean, your lamb’s) are making me weak in the knees :-D

    (or is it ‘in the shanks’? whatever, shut up Claire)

  • http://colloquialcooking.com Colloquial Cook

    Terrific pictures, and, …dare I admit I am a black cardamom virgin? Your shanks (I mean, your lamb’s) are making me weak in the knees :-D

    (or is it ‘in the shanks’? whatever, shut up Claire)

  • http://foodmayhem.com/ Jessica@FoodMayhem

    What a festive dish! Coincidentally, I have some shanks in the fridge, but I don’t have cranberries. =( Nice pics!

  • http://foodmayhem.com Jessica@FoodMayhem

    What a festive dish! Coincidentally, I have some shanks in the fridge, but I don’t have cranberries. =( Nice pics!

  • http://duodishes.com/ The Duo Dishes

    Cardamom to the rescue. Love that for any sort of meat. It leaves a great flavor.

  • http://duodishes.com The Duo Dishes

    Cardamom to the rescue. Love that for any sort of meat. It leaves a great flavor.

  • http://tastyeatsathome.wordpress.com/ Alta

    Oh my, this looks so amazing. And I see the marrow in that shank bone just peeking out, yum yum! Makes my mouth water.

  • http://tastyeatsathome.wordpress.com Alta

    Oh my, this looks so amazing. And I see the marrow in that shank bone just peeking out, yum yum! Makes my mouth water.

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com/ Peter G

    Marc, I’m impressed with this technique of using cranberries with the shanks…def a must try for winter. I also need to source some black cardamom…again you’ve provided great inspiration form your wonderful creations! Enjoy your new toy!

  • http://souvlakiforthesoul.com Peter G

    Marc, I’m impressed with this technique of using cranberries with the shanks…def a must try for winter. I also need to source some black cardamom…again you’ve provided great inspiration form your wonderful creations! Enjoy your new toy!

  • http://www.chocolateshavings.ca/ chocolate shavings

    There’s always something wonderful about slow cooked food isn’t there? You start with a tough piece of meat and end up with a fork-tender piece of goodness. Your lamb dish looks delicious!

  • http://www.chocolateshavings.ca chocolate shavings

    There’s always something wonderful about slow cooked food isn’t there? You start with a tough piece of meat and end up with a fork-tender piece of goodness. Your lamb dish looks delicious!

  • http://www.iarethefoodsnob.blogspot.com/ Monique

    That looks divine. I have a slight obsession with marrow in lamb shanks. the picture makes me drooL!

  • http://www.iarethefoodsnob.blogspot.com Monique

    That looks divine. I have a slight obsession with marrow in lamb shanks. the picture makes me drooL!

  • http://trissalicious.com/ Trissa

    Can I be honest? Your pictures are so gorgeous it was hard to read the rest of the post and I was hopelessly engrossed in gawking at the food pics… but when I did read the recipe and the rest of the blog – I thought – what a fantastic idea to combine something as festive as cranberries. Unfortunately fresh ones are hard to come by – can I use dried ones?

  • http://trissalicious.com Trissa

    Can I be honest? Your pictures are so gorgeous it was hard to read the rest of the post and I was hopelessly engrossed in gawking at the food pics… but when I did read the recipe and the rest of the blog – I thought – what a fantastic idea to combine something as festive as cranberries. Unfortunately fresh ones are hard to come by – can I use dried ones?

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com/ we are never full

    the lamb shank is such a delicious and forgiving cut. i can almost smell this dish w/ your description. looks beautiful. black cardamom like bacon? ok, that one i’m going to have to test out myself.

  • http://www.weareneverfull.com we are never full

    the lamb shank is such a delicious and forgiving cut. i can almost smell this dish w/ your description. looks beautiful. black cardamom like bacon? ok, that one i’m going to have to test out myself.

  • http://joylicious.net/ Joy

    I love lamb shank ALOT — I have never seen black cardamom — do you have any suggestions as to where I might find it? I love the addition of cranberries — the tartness and sweetness of these delightful berries would make a wonderful contrast to the heaviness of the lambshank, if only my mouth could taste the wonderful creation that is shown in your beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing :)

  • http://joylicious.net Joy

    I love lamb shank ALOT — I have never seen black cardamom — do you have any suggestions as to where I might find it? I love the addition of cranberries — the tartness and sweetness of these delightful berries would make a wonderful contrast to the heaviness of the lambshank, if only my mouth could taste the wonderful creation that is shown in your beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing :)

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com/ Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Aw, this is almost making me wish it was Winter here. Almost. I do love me some shanks. Never heard of black cardamom but I’ll look out for it at my Chinese supermarket as you’re definitely selling it to me well! :D

  • http://www.hungryandfrozen.blogspot.com Laura @ Hungry and Frozen

    Aw, this is almost making me wish it was Winter here. Almost. I do love me some shanks. Never heard of black cardamom but I’ll look out for it at my Chinese supermarket as you’re definitely selling it to me well! :D

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com/ Manggy

    Oh wow, a new camera, you lucky duck! The shots look fantastic, and while I’ve never been one to shy from a long recipe, I’d still hit this :) Black cardamom is one of those US-only things for me, I think, unfortunately..

  • http://manggy.blogspot.com Manggy

    Oh wow, a new camera, you lucky duck! The shots look fantastic, and while I’ve never been one to shy from a long recipe, I’d still hit this :) Black cardamom is one of those US-only things for me, I think, unfortunately..

  • http://foodalogue.com/ Joan Nova

    I’ve never used cardamon when braising shanks, no less the black version but it opens up a new flavor profile for the dish to me. Looks wonderful, especially with the addition of cranberries giving it some well-needed color. P.S. Results of your new camera are great!

  • http://foodalogue.com Joan Nova

    I’ve never used cardamon when braising shanks, no less the black version but it opens up a new flavor profile for the dish to me. Looks wonderful, especially with the addition of cranberries giving it some well-needed color. P.S. Results of your new camera are great!

  • http://hecooksshecookswecook.com/ Jeff

    You suck! I was going to do lamb shanks in guinness but now I want to use up the remaining cranberries I have floating in the fridge.

    I never understood people who complained that food is to complicated to make. Unless you are busting out liquid nitrogen and other Ferran Adria chemist kit item nothing is all that hard. Some of it just requires patience which I guess is hard for most people.

  • http://hecooksshecookswecook.com/ Jeff

    You suck! I was going to do lamb shanks in guinness but now I want to use up the remaining cranberries I have floating in the fridge.

    I never understood people who complained that food is to complicated to make. Unless you are busting out liquid nitrogen and other Ferran Adria chemist kit item nothing is all that hard. Some of it just requires patience which I guess is hard for most people.

  • Pingback: Braised Lamb, Cranberry, Parsnip Puree + The Delancey Salad | Anticiplate

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com/ Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    I love the combination of lamb shanks and cranberries, and the black cardamom is very intriguing!

  • http://fivestarfoodie.blogspot.com Natasha – 5 Star Foodie

    I love the combination of lamb shanks and cranberries, and the black cardamom is very intriguing!

  • http://www.slim-shoppin.com/ Jenn@slim-shoppin

    I don’t think I’ve ever used cardamom in anything I’ve made, I can’t wait to try that in a dish.

    Your pictures look amazing. I’m with you, my kitchen lighting sucks! Not enough natural light.

  • http://www.slim-shoppin.com Jenn@slim-shoppin

    I don’t think I’ve ever used cardamom in anything I’ve made, I can’t wait to try that in a dish.

    Your pictures look amazing. I’m with you, my kitchen lighting sucks! Not enough natural light.

  • http://thezoeblog.blogspot.com/ zoe

    Delicious and stunning!

  • http://thezoeblog.blogspot.com zoe

    Delicious and stunning!

  • http://www.lavalakelamb.com/ Annie

    This looks fabulous – I love the idea of combining cranberries, cardamon, cloves with lamb.

  • http://www.lavalakelamb.com Annie

    This looks fabulous – I love the idea of combining cranberries, cardamon, cloves with lamb.

  • http://www.familyfriendlyfood.com/ Nurit – 1 family. friendly. fo

    Winter has only NOW arrived in NYC? We are freezing here in Seattle! Anyway, this dish looks fab. I love the use of fresh cranberries although I probably won’t find black cardamom (it sounds so good) in my store and I’ve got no plans for shopping around in the current 20-ies degrees as in Farenheit. I’ll use regular one.

  • http://www.familyfriendlyfood.com/ Nurit – 1 family. friendly. food.

    Winter has only NOW arrived in NYC? We are freezing here in Seattle! Anyway, this dish looks fab. I love the use of fresh cranberries although I probably won’t find black cardamom (it sounds so good) in my store and I’ve got no plans for shopping around in the current 20-ies degrees as in Farenheit. I’ll use regular one.

  • http://www.phamfatale.com/ Jackie at PhamFatale.com

    I’ve been searching for THE perfect holiday meal. Marc, I think you hit the jackpot. ***Drool***

  • http://www.phamfatale.com/ Jackie at PhamFatale.com

    I’ve been searching for THE perfect holiday meal. Marc, I think you hit the jackpot. ***Drool***

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    I made a take on this but did not have the black cardamon, and am linking it to this…was wonderful!

  • http://cookappeal.blogspot.com/ Chef E

    I made a take on this but did not have the black cardamon, and am linking it to this…was wonderful!

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com/ pigpigscorner

    wow great flavours here and it’s beautiful! Now I have to find fresh cranberries.

  • http://www.pigpigscorner.com pigpigscorner

    wow great flavours here and it’s beautiful! Now I have to find fresh cranberries.

  • http://thehungrydog.blogspot.com/ hungry dog

    This sounds incredible. I have never heard of black cardamom but I love the regular cardamom…must look for it or check Penzeys. Thanks for posting this delicious and beautiful recipe!

  • http://thehungrydog.blogspot.com hungry dog

    This sounds incredible. I have never heard of black cardamom but I love the regular cardamom…must look for it or check Penzeys. Thanks for posting this delicious and beautiful recipe!

  • http://www.sugarbar.org/ diva

    mmm i love all the spices you’ve used in this lamb shank recipe as it’s so warm and comforting. perfect for this time of the year. it’s hard to fine fresh cranberries here but i might have to make this soon as it looks too good to pass up, and i’d be sure to wow the socks off my new flatmate :) x

  • http://www.sugarbar.org diva

    mmm i love all the spices you’ve used in this lamb shank recipe as it’s so warm and comforting. perfect for this time of the year. it’s hard to fine fresh cranberries here but i might have to make this soon as it looks too good to pass up, and i’d be sure to wow the socks off my new flatmate :) x

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com/ Stacey Snacks

    Marc,
    I can’t decide whether to make your lamb shanks or Stephane’s for a dinner party this weekend, I was googling recipes for shanks, and they both came up!

  • http://staceysnacksonline.com Stacey Snacks

    Marc,
    I can’t decide whether to make your lamb shanks or Stephane’s for a dinner party this weekend, I was googling recipes for shanks, and they both came up!

  • Pingback: Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » December 2009 Roundup

  • Woodrenahenderson

    you are just what i’ve been lookinf for all my life i fall short when it comes to looking up recipts but i like lots of flavor and unique seasonings in my food. please keep us cooking! thanks

Welcome!

I'm Marc, and I want to teach you some basic techniques and give you the confidence and inspiration so that you can cook without recipes too!