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.
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.
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.
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 recipe is specific for a large shank, not thick slices of shank. If you do use shank slices, consider reducing the port and stock by half (so, 1/2 cup and 2 cups, respectively). Also, feel free to strain the braising liquid and reduce it a bit. This “pot liquor” is excellent on the meat and also quells the bitterness of certain greens you might prepare to accompany the meat. It could also be used to make a gravy.
1 3 pound whole beef shank
1-2 large shallots
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
fresh rosemary and thyme, 3-5 sprigs each
1 cup port wine
4 c. chicken stock
duck fat, tallow, or lard for searing
kosher salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Wash and pat dry the beef shank. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper.
>Directions if using a guyvech or lidded cooking vessel not safe for stovetop use:
Heat up the fat in a cast iron skillet until it melts; coat the surface of the pan. Place the beef shank in the pan and sear both sides, about 2-4 minutes each side. You’re looking for a nice crust on both sides of the shank.
With tongs, lift the beef shank from the cast iron skillet and place it in the guyvech or large casserole dish.
Add the shallots, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to the remaining fat in the skillet and cook for a few minutes. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup port. Pour this mixture on top of the beef shank. Add stock and 1/2 cup port.
>Directions if using a dutch oven or cooking vessel that is safe for use on the stovetop:
Place the dutch oven over a medium-high flame. Place the beef shank in the pan and and sear both sides, about 2-4 minutes each. You’re looking for a nice crust on both sides of the shank.
Add the shallots, garlic, rosemary, and thyme to the pot. Pour the port over everything, then the 4 cups of stock.
>Remaining directions for both kinds of cooking vessels:
Cover everything with the lid and place in the oven. Cook for about 5 hours, checking the meat each hour to gauge its progress. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
Serve with sauteed greens or whole grain of your choice.
This post is participating in Fight Back Friday, hosted by Food Renegade.