In this, my winter of braised meat, I’m getting quite good at this method of cooking. One thing I’m learning is that while lamb shanks can cook in as little as 90 minutes, beef really does take 3 hours to get to that tender, fall-off-the-bone stage. Maybe because the shanks are typically a lot thicker??
I’ve also learned that there’s definitely a different flavor profile in red wine vs white wine; and of course in an all-wine vs wine-plus-stock brew. They’re all good; just different.
2-4 beef shanks (3 fits perfectly in my dutch oven)
4 T olive oil
2 large yellow onions, sliced big
6 medium carrots, sliced big
12 cloves garlic, whole
6 c dry red wine (I use 4-buck Chuck from Trader Joe’s)
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
Parsley or more thyme sprigs, for garnish
Season the shanks well with salt and pepper then brown on both sides in the olive oil, about 5 min per side. Remove to a plate.
Add more oil to the pan if necessary and saute the onions, carrots and garlic til soft but not brown. If you have to add the wine at this point to keep the brown bits from burning, so be it; but it’s better to saute the vegetables in just the oil.
Once the veggies are softened, add the wine and herbs, scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and turn up the heat to boil. Then turn down and simmer for a few minutes. Once the flavors are blended, add the shanks to the pan, cover and put into a 300° oven for 3 hours.
Pick the thyme and bay leaves out of the juices and use an immersion blender to puree the vegetables into a smooth sauce for spooning over the meat. Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley or arrange a thyme sprig on top of each serving.
Of course you want to serve this with potatoes. Add a hearty green vegetable like asparagus and a nice salad and you’ve got a great dinner!