|Braising Beef Shanks|
The idea of making a lamb or beef shank came into my head the other day. Not really sure why, but with my braces on my teeth and my TMJ issues, eating meat that is very tender is essential. Since my husband is not wild about lamb (although I adore it), I went looking for beef. The butcher at Whole Foods had some in the back of the store and brought out two whole beef shanks on a tray to show me. I nearly passed out...each one is as long as my thigh! He said he could slice off a couple pieces that I could cook like Osso Bucco, so that is what I did.
I researched some recipes online for beef shank and got the main idea of how to cook it. Even though the butcher told me browning or searing the meat first was redundant, I browned the meat first in olive oil in a dutch oven. Some French recipes recommended it (as did Emeril Lagasse!) so I went for it. After browning the meat, I removed it while I sauteed the vegetables, added wine and tomato paste. Then I brought the shanks back, added beef broth and herbs and put it in a slow oven for nearly 4 hours. I took the meat out to rest while I reduced the broth on the stove to a dark, delicious sauce, which I poured over mashed potatoes and the meat itself.
It was incredible. Meat falling off the bone, so tender and so delicious. But after smelling it cooking all afternoon, I was too hungry and anxious to eat it to snap a photo of the final result! You will have to do with the process photos above. My advice to those who want to try it: do it on a day when you have about 5 hours available. It took me about an hour to assemble my ingredients, chop the vegetables and get the dish to the stage where it goes in the oven. It took 3 3/4 hours to cook the meat and about 15 minutes to reduce the sauce. I made a sauteed cauliflower and tomato dish to accompany the meat and potatoes.
Braised Beef Shanks
2 thick slices beef shank (about 1" thick)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tsp each paprika and allspice, salt and pepper
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 small shallots, peeled and minced
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly sliced
2 stalks celery, roughly sliced
half a package sliced fresh mushrooms
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1 cup red wine ( I used Bogle Petite Syrah)
1 heaping Tablespoon tomato paste
3-4 cups organic beef broth ( I used Pacific brand)
(Preheat oven to 325°) Heat olive oil in heavy, ovenproof dutch oven on top of stove on medium-high heat. Pat beef dry and season with salt, pepper, paprika and allspice. Brown in dutch oven until meat develops a bit of a crust. Remove meat to platter. Add onion and shallot to pan and saute, adding a bit more oil, if necessary. After the onions and shallots are translucent, add the garlic, carrot, celery and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper as you add them to the pot. Pour in the wine and cook for 5 minutes or so until it reduces a bit. Add the tomato paste and cook for a minute or so. Return the beef to the pot, moving away the vegetables so the meat sits on the bottom. Arrange vegetables around and on top of meat. Add enough beef broth to cover the meat and bring to boil.
When everything has reached a rolling boil, remove from the stove and place dutch oven in the preheated oven uncovered. Set timer for 4 hours. After one hour, take dutch oven out and turn beef over in pot. Continue to cook, checking occasionally to make sure the liquid does not evaporate too much and expose too much of the beef. I turned it about once an hour to make sure one side did not dry out, or you can add more liquid.
In the last hour, make mashed potatoes and get other side dishes ready. When the meat is falling off the bone, remove the dutch oven from the oven and remove the beef with a slotted spoon or tongs to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Place the dutch oven with the remaining vegetables and broth on the stove on high (remove the bay leaves and rosemary) and cook, stirring until the sauce reduces. Serve the beef with mashed potatoes and a vegetable side dish. Pour sauce over meat and potatoes. Have a glass of red wine with it...you deserve it!