A friend is giving me a bag of beef shanks. What can I do with it?
Beef shanks are great just simply braised. There's a place here in RI that serves them up as sloppy joes - the meat's slow cooked with spices until it's falling apart, tender, then they toss it with sauce, pile it on a bun and serve it with house pickles. I bet shank would make a great ragu for pasta, too. It's incredibly flavorful meat, you just have to cook it low and slow so it gets really tender.
Try this recipe...
2 large beef shanks (about 1 ½ to 2 pounds), fat removed
1 package beef marinade (I like Lawry's or McCormick packaged marinades)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup red onion, coursely chopped
1/3 cup celery, coursley chopped
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 cups water
2 teaspoons of “Better than Bouillon” chicken base
1 large (28 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes and (its juice), put in a bowl and slice tomatoes in half
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ cup uncooked white rice
1 – 14-16oz bag of frozen mixed vegetables
1 Tablespoon of fresh thyme (1 teaspoon each if using dried thyme)
1 Tablespoon fresh basil (1 teaspoon each if using dried basil)
Marinate beef shanks for at least an hour in beef marinade.
Using a large soup/stock pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add beef shanks. Sear about 6 minutes on each side.
Add 2 of the mined garlic, red onion, celery and Bay Leaves and black pepper.
Turn heat up to high and add water and “Better than Bouillon" chicken base. After pot boils, reduce heat to simmer, and let simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
After 2 hours add tomatoes, sugar, hot sauce, rice, basil, thyme and 1 minced garlic clove. Let cook 10 minutes.
Add frozen vegetables and cook an additional 10 minutes.
When cooking is completed, remove the beef shanks and place on a plate, cut beef from bones and chop in medium size pieces. Return beef to the pot (you can discard bones or return back to the pot for additional favoring).
Remove bay leaves.
Serves 5 to 6.
I've done Hungarian braised beef short ribs, with lots of paprika; I'll bet that would work wonderfully with beef shank!
Beef shanks are very good in a ragu. I like them to be braised in a watery red sauce then shred them off the bone and add the meat back into the red sauce. I think it really captures the essence of what a beef shank is, and is incredibly flavorful.
I'm in the braising chorus too, but let me add this possibilty. If there is a lot of marrow in the shanks you can roast them and serve them with a persillade of chopped parsley and garlic. Provide small forks (or ideally marrow spoons) to scoop out the good stuff.
But back to braising; dried porcini mushrooms (cepes), fresh brown mushrooms (and please don't call them cremini or baby bellas), garlic, shallots, beef stock, bay leaf, whole black or green peppercorns. Serve over papparedelle pasta. Depending on how many shanks you have, you could also make a damn fine beef stock from those.
I just happen to be making braising some right now! First I put a little olive oil and spices such as ground fennel seed and pepper and then I brown them on my BBQ for some smoky flavor. I cut up some carrots ,celery and an onion and put a little olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute them for a few minutes. Then I put the ribs in the pot, add a half a bottle of red wine, enough stock to barely cover, put the lid on and place in the oven at 300 degrees for about 2 1/2 hours. Then I remove everything from the pot, throw the vegetables away and reduce the liquid into a sauce.
Do what either Pierino or Dymnyo says!
Braising is the way. Mind you, they're also quite good if you slice them (got a band saw or a friendly butcher?) before braising. This helps release some of that rich, thick goodness of the marrow into the braise (or even a stew) and enables your diners to easily eat the cooked marrow when served.
I often do a lamb do piazza using sliced lamb shanks instead of the more typical boneless shoulder. Adds amazing body to the dish and then you can just suck the marrow as you eat. Yum! might have to make this week...
I meant that my recipe above is great for both short ribs and Shanks.