Most American Jews know what they’re making for Rosh Hashanah dinner: It’s going to be brisket. Brisket in ketchup or BBQ sauce, or Coca-Cola, or whatever other recipe has been passed down in your family. It’s tasty and easy, and best of all, you can make it in advance and it’s hard to ruin.
As someone who grew up in the Middle East, lamb is my brisket. I turn to lamb stews, and not roasted lamb, to get the same benefits a good brisket recipe has. You can prepare the lamb stew in advance and reheat the day of the meal. Also, the stew is cooked in liquid for such a long time, it will never come out too dry. In fact, it’s probably going to be the most tender meat you’re ever had.
Pomegranate is one of the symbolic foods of Rosh Hashanah, and with a dollop of honey and some good red wine it makes the perfect sauce for cooking lamb.
After four hours of cooking, the cooking liquid is reduced to make a silky, rich and wonderful sauce. The dish is very rich, so I would recommend serving the lamb next to simple side dishes, such as blanched green beans and roasted butternut squash. Both, by the way, are among the symbolic foods of the new year.
Since kosher leg of lamb is hard to find outside of Israel, you can use lamb shoulder for just as excellent results.
This recipe is based on Ina Garten’s wonderful 4-hour lamb recipe.
Pomegranate lamb for Rosh Hashanah
One boneless leg of lamb (about 5 lbs.), tied for a roast, or one lamb shoulder
3 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken stock
1 cup pomegranate juice
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1. Pat lamb dry. Sprinkle with 3 teaspoons of salt and black pepper.
2. Put olive oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, brown lamb on all sides for about 10 minutes. Transfer lamb to a tray. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour, stir and cook for another 2 minutes. Now add wine, stock, pomegranate juice, honey and spices. Scrape the bottom of pot for any flavor bits and bring to boil.
3. Add lamb to the pot, fat side up. Bring back to boil, remove any foam, then cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 4 hours. The liquid should nearly cover the lamb at all times. You can add boiling water as needed.
4. After 4 hours, remove lamb from the liquid and place on a tray, and cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. You can also keep the lamb covered in a 200-degree Fahrenheit oven.
5. Increase flame to medium and reduce the sauce for 20-30 minutes, until very thick. Taste and add salt as needed.
6. Slice lamb and serve with sauce on the side.
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