A shank bone, or zeroa, is included on the Seder plate at Passover to represent the offering in the Temple when God commanded each Jewish family to sacrifice and eat a 1-year-old lamb. But shanks can also appear at the Seder on dinner plates, as part of the festive meal.
Many years ago at a Seder, I ate a delicious Egyptian dish made with veal shanks, lemons, and artichokes. These days, fewer people eat veal, for humane reasons. But the same dish can be made with lamb or beef shanks, and it’s perfect for a Seder meal. And although many observant Jews do not eat roasted lamb at the Seder, they may eat meat that has been braised or stewed.
When I first made the recipe, I used canned or frozen artichokes. Today, I use fresh artichokes, particularly in the spring, when this ancient thistle is at its best. The flavor of fresh artichoke is so much better and the result so appreciated that when I tested the recipe for this article, a noted restaurant reviewer who sat at my Sabbath table asked for two servings of the dish.
Joan Nathan is Tablet Magazine’s food columnist and the author of 10 cookbooks including King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World.