It sometimes amazes me that in today’s world of high-end restaurants and lofty food shows the simpler cuts of meat are either forgotten or worse, are thought of as something only useful for the most basic of culinary tasks. My issue with this trend is that some of the cuts now shunned by most shoppers have the capability of producing the most wonderful and intense flavors when treated correctly. These ingredients should be commonly used, not relegated to a back shelf in the meat aisle with labeling spelling out their least delectable use.
Take this poor misunderstood specimen:
When I went into the market the other day, I had no intention of braising anything. It’s still full-blown summertime hot here in Far Northern California with temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees on most days, so having something simmering on the cook top wasn’t the first thing on my mind. Fortunately for me, my first reaction to the above label was something like;
“For Stock! Are you kidding me? That’s a perfect braise!”
And with just a little love, it was.
I think too many people get caught up in the idea that braising takes a very long time. In fact, the secret to a great braise is less about the actual cooking time than it is about the love put into the first few steps of the process. A good sear, the proper accouterments and the ability to simply sit back and let the thing happen are all that is really required to achieve stunning results for very little effort and even less money.
In the case of this dish, a bit of good port, some onions, garlic, vegetable broth, a few herbs and some aggressive seasoning was all that it took to elevate this humble shank cut to new levels of perfection.
Granted, I did use a bottle of port valued at over $30.00, but only because I had it lying about. An equal amount of a $7.00 port or a $5.00 Marsala would have served just as well in this case. (Even a cheap Burgundy or Zinfandel would have been fine.) A great braise is about methods. It’s about deep, rich flavors. It’s about taking all the love you can give a dish and letting the meal return the favor.
This recipe won’t let you down.
It may be the dog days of summer, but winter will be here before you know it. This is most definitely a recipe you should explore and make your own. Add some tomato paste, a few mushrooms, a bit of whatever else you like. Toss some potatoes in about 30 minutes before serving. Top a salad with the beef and make a vinaigrette from the jous. It really doesn’t matter. This is worth exploring. It will satisfy your heart, your mind and hopefully, a good portion of your soul.
It’s that good.
Port Wine Braised Beef Shank Recipe
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1097Total Fat: 36gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 398mgSodium: 755mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 173g
What I would have done differently had I thought of it at the time:
This dish is all about seasoning. Don’t be afraid of salt and pepper here. It’s going to need far more of both than you think it is. Test after three hours and keep adjusting in small doses until the broth is as rich as you like it to be.
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OMG that looks sooo good! How was the port??
Well, they say you shouldn’t cook with something you wouldn’t drink…so that must have been a very good dish.
Haven’t tried the port on its own. just used it for the beef, but it had great results.
The Port was a gift from my wife. I generally use a much less expensive variety. This stuff is Awesome, though.
It’s to hot now but this sure looks like some good comfort food. I’ll bookmark it for those cooler days! Hopefully that will be soon. :)
Just tried this recipe and it came out fantastic! I discovered I didn’t need a lot of seasoning, just using fresh Italian herbs instead of dried and adding a few other vegetables to make it more like a stew worked out great. This is the first time I’ve ever slow-braised a cut of meat and I will definitely do this more often, thank you!
I’m glad cuts like these aren’t popular, and underestimated. Keeps cost low for the rest of us :)
@Phil – I completely agree with that statement!
That’s a yummy recipe! Makes me wanna eat it! :) I’m from Lafayette and have been trying good food all my life. I made a website for my recipes given to me by my Momma a long time ago. Lots of good food like jambalaya and such. Mind looking at it and telling me what you think about it? I’d be happy to share a recipe to put on your site. Or we could maybe share links? Go here if you wanna see it-> Cajuns. I just added your site. Will be checking back often. :)
I tried this and it cam put beautifully. I used a LOT of pepper, which was great, but next time I will put the whole peppercorns in a cheesecloth bag.
Just made your beef shank recipe and we loved it! My husband really enjoyed the broth. In fact, he asked me to save it and make something else out of it. :) I pretty much followed your recipe as written, only I added one carrot and one celery stalk to the onions and garlic. I also put in some browned mushrooms when there was one hour remaining. I served this with roasted cauliflower and pumpkin.
Thanks for posting!
The most worked muscles are the toughest and the most flavorful. It’s something to do with collagen. Slow moist cooking dissolves the tough parts and transfers the flavors to both the liquid and the meat.
To make a REALLY good stew cook everything separately then combine (including liquids). The individual flavors come through so well and the liquids provide the combined flavors.
Probably better for Washington than California, but then I’m British and biased :)
I had beef shank that I bought for $2. originally I was going to make ravioli filling but upon finding this recipe I decided to give it a try.
Unbelievable! My tiny apartment smelled great and I had a dinner that was amazing. I used the stock to make a gravy and added that to the finished shank.
Tonight I am making it again as it is freezing here in NYC. A perfect dish to spend the afternoon on.
I just tried this recipe and it was delicious, the tasty was great, wouldn’t have thought that from what they always us it for
Because my Port is $40 a bottle, but my Marsala is $7, I’ll substitute. On the menu for Monday
I found beef shank on sale and this receipe intrigued me. I went to another receipe site and it had no receipes for beef shank.
Started buying beef shank a few months ago after having osso bucco at a local restuarant. The beef makes a similar dish to the veal and is vastly cheaper. I usually make beef shank in the crock pot, and serve on top of cheesy polenta with tomatoes, carrots, and gravy made from the jus.