Friday, December 27, 2013

Wine-Braised Beef Shanks in Garlic-Tomato Broth


I've gotten into buying beef shanks, probably not the most popular cut of meat but I can tell you it's amazingly rich in flavor. It's a cut of meat that lends itself to being braised and slow cooked. It's intensely beefy in flavor and oh so tender when cooked right. This recipe couldn't be easier. You marinate everything in a zip bag overnight and by everything I mean Burgundy wine, thyme, a whole head of garlic, shallots, and tomatoes. The next morning chuck the contents of the bag into your slow cooker and let it braise slowly all day. What you get is the most mouth-watering, tender and juicy beef, that's perfect over mashed potatoes,  rice or even ladled over large pieces of toasted, crusty, french bread. Next time you are at the market and see these under-appreciated and often overlooked beefy cuts, pick up a couple of packs, I promise you won't be disappointed and they are budget friendly too!

Serves 2-4

2-3 lbs beef shanks
1 1/2 cups Burgundy wine (or any red wine you have at home)
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 head of garlic, unpeeled, sliced in half
5-6 shallots, unpeeled, opposite end of the root cut off
1 28 oz whole tomatoes, undrained
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a zip bag and allow to marinate, in the fridge, overnight or 24 hours if time permits. If marinating for 24 hours, turn bag often to distribute marinde, if overnight turn bag once.

Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 8-9 hours, or on hi for 4-5 hours. Remove remove beef shanks set-aside. Remove shallots and garlic, allow to cool enough to handle. Remove peel from shallots, and squeeze garlic to expel the soft garlic paste. Strain liquid, reserve tomatoes and run liquid through a fat separator*. Return liquid, tomatoes, garlic paste to slow cooker and blend through using an immersion blender (or a regular blender if you don't have one).
Add shanks and peeled shallots back into the blended liquid. Beef will be tender and will probably have already fallen off the shank bones, you can discard bones or save them for your pooch or a beef stock.

Serve with mashed potatoes, egg noodles or rice. Or do what I do and toast up some crusty French bread, tear it off into big pieces and then ladle the meat, shallots and garlicky-tomato broth over the bread.  Yes, that is decadently delicious! Enjoy!

*Recipe note:  Personally, I think this meal tastes even better the next day, so I skip the fat separator part place everything in a large glass bowl in the fridge overnight. The next evening I just remove all the fat which will have solidified. Easier, less mess to clean up and I think much more effective way to remove the fat.  I then follow the rest of the steps in the recipe.

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