Braised beef shanks

Braised beef shanks

Yes, I braised the beef shanks I talked about yesterday.  This is an easy recipe.  As long as you have shanks, canola oil, a decent acid, some aromatics and salt and pepper, the rest is gravy. 

raw beef shanks that have been sliced

 This is something you make by feel.  Really, it is very hard to mess this one up unless you make it too salty, so take care with salt or salty ingredients.  Start with fresh beef shanks, sliced or not.  Salt and pepper them.  Brown all sides in a large, heavy, oven-proof pot with a little canola oil.  Make sure the pot is good and hot when you add the meat.  Add some aromatics, such as onion, celery root and garlic.  Peel and cut into rough slices.  The garlic may be tossed in without chopping.  Feel free to brown the aromatics, but I did not do so here.  Whatever does not dissolve into the braise may be fished out and discarded, as you prefer, at the end of the cooking process. Add some flavorful liquids, including at least one acid.  I used soy sauce, red wine, beef stock and a can of tomatoes.  Use ratios that make sense; clearly you want more stock and wine than you do soy sauce.  Add enough liquids to just cover the shanks, but you do not want them lost at sea.  Add a little dried thyme or something similar, like marjoram, if you have it.  Dried herbs are perfect for a braise since they have plenty of time to release their flavors, so don’t bother wasting money on fresh herbs for this recipe.  A small handful of dried mushrooms works well at this point, in case you have some on hand.  If not, don’t bother.  Bring this mass to a boil, then cover and place in preheated 325 degree F. oven for a good 2 1/2 hours – more if your shanks are not sliced.  You may also braise them, covered, on the burner if you must — like if your oven is broken or you use it as storage — in which case you should maintain a low simmer for aboutthe same amount of time.  Just check them every now and again so they don’t burn.  The braise will look thin and pale for the first hour or so, but don’t worry as it will develop color and body as it cooks.  The finished product should be fall-off-the-bone-tender, but not mushy. 

Serve as is, or use a hand blender to homogenize the sauce, but be sure to serve with something that makes full use of the sauce, like potatoes or a good bread.

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