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Related Ingredients
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Tasting Notes

Like all cuts of meat that are closest to the bone, beef shanks are big on flavor. By braising them, we break down all their tough connective tissue until their delicious, tender meat melts off the bone.

It may seem as though we’re adding too many onions here, but they’ll cook down and infuse the dish with the sweet and savory flavors of a soul-warming bowl of French onion soup. Full-bodied, tannic and dry Cabernet adds acidity, which cuts through the richness of the beef and the sweetness of the onions. While the beef shanks cook, the marrow from their bones adds body and richness to the braising liquid, which we use as the base of their sauce.

Tips & Techniques

  1. Slow down. We aren’t searing a steak here – we’re building the flavor base for a braise. So take your time as you slowly caramelize the beef and the onions.
  2. Brown ‘em two by two. Meat releases steam as it cooks, so crowding all four shanks into your pan at once will cause too much moisture to drip into the pan. To keep your pan hot and dry – and ensure that the sugars in the meat caramelize properly – you’ll want to avoid overcrowding.
  3. Check for doneness. Even though the oven is set for at 300°F, we only want the temperature of the meat to reach 180°F. After an hour in the oven, check the meat every 30 minutes. It’s done when it yields easily to a fork.
  4. An unexpected thickening agent. The super-flavorful strained and reduced braising liquid needs a little more body so that it coats the meat and doesn’t make the croutons soggy. Instead of masking its flavor with a flour-based roux, we puree the cooked onions from the braise to thicken our sauce.

Toolbox

These tools are the ones we find especially helpful when making this dish.

  1. Dutch Oven. A large pot or kettle that is ideal for braising, thanks to its versatility to be used on top of the stove or in the oven. Typically, it is made of cast iron with a snuggly fit lid so that steam cannot escape while braising or stewing.

The list below includes all the equipment you’ll want to make this dish.

Strainer over large bowl

Medium-sized sheet pan

Spider or slotted spoon

Ladle or large spoon

Roasting pan

Small sauce pan

Dutch oven

Tongs

Blender

Whisk

Gloves


Ingredients
  • Grapeseed or canola oil
  • 4 (1-pound) beef shanks
  • 6 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 bottle red wine, approximately 4 cups
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • Salt and pepper

Serves: 4

Total Time: 4 hours

Active Time: 1 hour

Method
  1. Heat oven to 300°F. Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat and coat the bottom of the pan with oil.
  2. Place beef shanks on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add two beef shanks to hot pan with a ¼ inch of grapeseed oil. Let that side brown without moving. This may take 4-6 minutes. Turn and brown on all sides the same way. Remove browned shanks from Dutch oven and rest on cooling rack over sheet pan. Now, brown the remaining two beef shanks. Note: it’s important to take your time browning the shanks, as this step is where most of the flavor in the broth comes from. Remove from the pan.
  4. Add more oil if necessary to coat the bottom of the pan again. Add onions and garlic and season with salt. Sweat until translucent, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes. Add thyme and bay leaf and continue cooking the onions until they are caramelized, about 10-20 minutes.
  5. Add wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with wooden spoon to release any brown bits. Bring the wine up to a boil and then bring it down to a simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Lower the heat and add beef stock.
  6. Return meat to the Dutch oven making sure the lid is tightly on. Place Dutch oven with beef shanks in the oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Check every thirty minutes, rotating the beef in the pan to ensure even cooking.
  7. Cool the meat in the liquid for 30 minutes and then remove the meat from the pan, using a mesh spider or skimmer, and place it on a baking sheet.
  8. Once meat has cooled, gently pull meat off bones, reserving both.
  9. Strain the braising liquid, saving 1 cup of the onions. Pour the strained braising liquid into a pan and reduce by half.
  10. Carefully add reduced liquid to a blender with the cooked onions. Blend and re-season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  11. Pour blended sauce into pan and whisk until frothy. Turn the stove off and add the beef shank pieces. Right before serving, reheat the pieces of beef shank in the sauce.

Here is a great way to turn this dish into a meal

Creamy braised beef paparadelle

Sautée mushrooms in a pan and add some of the onions from the beef braise, a cup of cream and reduce the sauce by half. Add shredded braised beef to the sauce and season with salt. Boil paparadelle and then add it to the meat and mushroom sauce before finishing with a garnish with chopped parsley.

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