Braised Beef Shank

by Meg Cotner on October 11, 2011

braised beef shank and asian greens

Recently, I’ve been craving beef an awful lot. It’s been a strong craving, and when I feel a tug toward a food so intensely, I go with it. I figure my body is telling me it needs something in that particular food (it also happens with orange juice from time to time – obviously that’s about vitamin C). I had recently eaten a burger at Bareburger, then another burger at Sparrow, but it wasn’t enough. So, I decided to take out the big guns – a substantial beef shank I had in my freezer.

I actually ordered it earlier this year through my CSA but was holding off on cooking it – it was a large piece of meat and I was feeling a little intimidated by it (this is my past vegetarianism rearing its head). I originally bought it because I knew 1) I could learn about braising with it, and 2) that there would be a big marrow bone in the middle. I’ve been wanting to try marrow for a while, and though I’d kill two birds with one stone in cooking this shank.

beef shank in guyvech

Additionally, when I ordered it, I expected a flat piece of meat – the recipes I’d seen online of beef shank dishes always referred to slices of beef shank.  Turns out, I had ordered something bigger – what was seemingly the whole shank (or at least half of one) – which was about seven inches tall.

Like I said, I planned to braise this piece of meat. Braising, as it turns out, was the perfect way to cook it. All the connective tissue just melted into the meat, rendering it extremely tender. It was delicious, too – rather beefy, savory, truly fantastic.

braised beef shank

The meat ended up making three meals for us total – the initial meal post-braise; lunch the next day (quesadillas); and we used it in a pasta sauce the following day.

My recipe was inspired by this recipe, but I changed the size/shape of the meat, the cooking process, and some of the ingredients, so it’s pretty much a different recipe at this point. The port wine is a constant, though – having that acidity helps to break down the connective tissue and adds to the tenderness of the meat. It is a perfect flavor combination with the beef, too.

guyvech, a Bulgarian cooking vessel

I also got to use my guyvech, finally! I bought it some months ago from Mother Linda, when she put them on sale, so I bought it for quite a reasonable price. It’s a glazed clay cooking vessel popular in Bulgaria, and served as the perfect thing in which to braise my shank. Plus it’s a beautiful piece of art.

This post is participating in Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.

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