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Braised Moroccan Lamb Shanks with French Lentils

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In continuation with my Wine and Cheese Detox and the BAFLC, I spent the better part of my Sunday braising Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate, and I’m certainly not sorry. As the sweet smells of cinnamon and pomegranate filled my apartment, I knew I was in store for something delicious. Not to mention, I was able to use my newly purchased ceramic Dutch oven!

Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate (serves 4)

  • 1 tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 lamb shanks
  • 1 TB cornstarch
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch wedges
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 large leek, white and light-green parts only, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 sprigs thyme
  •  cups pomegranate juice
  •  cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ¼ cup mint leaves


I paired the lamb shanks with Confetti Lentils, per BAFLC suggestion. They were pretty easy to prepare as long as you have a good box shredder or shredding disc for a food processor. You should be able to find French lentils at most specialty grocery stores, but the only place I could find celery root was at Whole Foods. Turns out, it’s a pretty cool vegetable!

Confetti Lentils (serves 4)

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded
  • 1 medium celery root, peeled and shredded
  • 1 medium onion, shredded 
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, plus more
  •  cups French green lentils

All in all, the lamb takes about 5 hours to prepare so it’s the perfect Sunday roast. Trim the shanks of any excess thick fat (white opaque, rough parts) but do not remove the iridescent membrane, which holds the meat together. Blend together coriander, cumin, fennel seeds, salt and pepper and rub all sides of the shanks with the spice mixture, then let rest for 30 minutes and up to overnight.



About 30 minutes before you plan to cook the shanks, dredge in cornstarch, covering all sides of the shank. Preheat the oven to 350, then heat 2 TB olive oil in a large dutch oven. Sear the lamb shanks on all sides until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish then add onion, carrot and leek to the pot and cook, stirring and scraping up any brown bits that have accumulated, for 1 minute. Add cinnamon and thyme and pour in pomegranate juice and chicken stock. Scrape pan again, then bring mixture to a simmer. Return shanks to pan and season with kosher salt and black pepper.


Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise 1½ hours, then check liquid level, making sure there is at least 1″ stock in pan; if not, add water or stock to bring it up to that mark. Continue braising until meat is completely tender and falling off the bone, about 2½ hours.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb shanks to a plate. Discard thyme and cinnamon stick. To serve, bring remaining braising liquid to a simmer, adding more water or stock if needed. Add the meat back to the sauce and cook until warmed through, if needed. Serve lamb pieces off the bone with some sauce and top with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves.

Prepare the lentils when there is about 30 minutes left to the lamb. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium. Add carrots, celery root, onion and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in lentils. Pour in 3¾ cups of boiling water and bring to a boil once more. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lentils are tender but retain their shape, about 25 minutes. Season with more salt, if desired. (Do not drain excess liquid; lentils remain tender better if stored in their cooking liquid.) To serve, use a slotted spoon or mesh strainer.


The lamb was so flavorful and had the perfect balance of sweet and savory, and the yummy lentils soaked up all of the delicious sauce from the braise. I have tons of leftover lentils and plan to add them to a salad some time this week. Although the lamb took a while to cook (as all braised meats do), it was totally worth it and I know it will taste even better over the next few days. This one is definitely a repeat – next time with a wine pairing!

No Wine or Cheese, Please!

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For the first time in my adult life, I’ve implemented a “Dry January” – GASP! I know, I know; how is it possible for me, of all people, to stop drinking wine (and all booze) for an entire month? Well frankly, it’s probably not possible. Which is why I’ve only promised myself two weeks of sobriety instead of the full month. To add to it (because no booze for two weeks isn’t enough?), I’ve also eliminated most dairy and all cheese from my diet until January 15, right in time for what will probably be a gluttonous MLK Weekend.

The line up of wines over Thanksgiving, the beginning of the Holiday binge.

The line up of wines for Thanksgiving dinner, the beginning of the Holiday binge.

I usually roll my eyes when people eliminate an entire food group from their diet for the sake of a New Years resolution or the like. But I legitimately felt the need to take a break after the over indulgence that has taken place over what’s basically been the last six months. And although most of it has to do with the desire to shed a few sugar fueled pounds, I honestly want to prove to myself and any doubters than I can in fact live without wine and cheese for two weeks. So that I can fully maximize my potential weight loss, I figured I should also implement a clean diet and lots of exercise.

The last wines I drank in 2015: Dueling Scribe Cabs (the 2009 blew the 2010 out of the water)

The last wines I drank in 2015: Dueling Scribe Cabs (the 2009 blew the 2010 out of the water)

(While I didn’t drink alcohol or eat any dairy on New Years Day, I didn’t start the official clean eating part of the diet until January 2nd because New Years Day is reserved for hangover cravings. I strongly believe that any New Year resolutions or diets shouldn’t start until January 2nd so that you have at least one day to recover and prepare yourself.)

Lucky for me, this is the time of year when the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse (BAFLC) comes out! The annual plan includes three meals, a snack and a dessert per day, focusing on healthy proteins, good fats, grains, fruits and vegetables, with minimal dairy and sugar. I particularly like this cleanse because many ingredients are repeated throughout the two weeks, and all lunches are made up of leftovers so you don’t have to spend an obscene amount of money on groceries. BA has even put together a printable grocery list that makes shopping much easier (especially when you already have most of the pantry items). While I typically don’t follow the entire two-week cleanse, I almost always find 6-10 tasty and unique recipes that I cycle through.

I kicked it off Saturday night with Mahi-Mahi with white beans, swiss chard and shiitake mushrooms. I made the meal for myself and two friends: The Mayor and First Broad. We all liked the fish (although, I could have doubled the orange zest and sage) and swiss chard, but agreed that the beans were lacking flavor. When I reheated the leftovers for lunch today, I sautéed the chard, mushrooms and beans together with 2 TB of harissa for about 5 minutes, adding the leftover cooked, chopped filet of Mahi-Mahi in towards the end. I finished the dish with a squeeze of lemon. These two small bursts of flavor added some spice and acid that the dish was otherwise lacking.

Leftovers turned healthy lunch

Leftovers turned healthy lunch

Next on the menu: Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate with Confetti Lentils. It looks pretty delicious, but I’ll let you know how it turns out. Stay tuned for more of my favorite BAFLC recipes, and check it out yourself to let me know what you think. In the meantime, wish me luck on my wine and cheese detox!

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