Braised beef shanks are succulent and tender. Although the preparation isn’t labor-intensive, it does take time—about five hours—to tenderize and infuse the marbled meat with vibrant spices and full-bodied red wine. If you braise the shanks the day before Christmas, the flavors will deepen considerably and you won’t be left with much work during the festivities. The leftovers make a wonderful meat pie, or a quick pasta dish: pappardelle with Neapolitan beef ragu.
4 beef shanks, about 4 pounds (1.8 kg) total
Fine sea salt
Finely ground pepper
14 allspice berries
6 whole cloves
2 large bay leaves
About 2 tsp ground cinnamon
About 1 tsp ground cardamom
8 large cloves garlic
4 medium red onions, cut into quarters
4 large carrots, thickly sliced
1 (750-ml) bottle full-bodied red wine
1 3/4 pounds (800 g) canned whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
1 small bunch fresh thyme
Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
In a Dutch oven, large enough to fit the meat and with a tight-fitting lid, heat a splash of olive oil over high heat. Working in batches, sear the beef shanks for 1 to 2 minutes per side or until evenly browned. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add a splash of olive oil and the allspice, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, and cardamom, stir, and cook for 15 seconds. Add the garlic, onions, and carrots and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add a splash of red wine and deglaze the Dutch oven, using a spatula to scrape any bits and pieces off the bottom. Add the tomatoes, return the meat to the Dutch oven, and add the remaining wine and the thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper, cover the Dutch oven, and place it in the oven.
After 45 minutes, reduce the temperature to 275°F (135°C) and cook for 3 to 4 hours or until the meat is tender. Remove and discard the thyme and bay leaves and season the sauce to taste with salt, pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom.
Serve the beef shanks with a large spoonful of the sauce, plus potato dumplings, roasted Brussels sprouts, or sautéed parsnips.
From 365: A Year of Everyday Cooking and Baking © 2019 by Meike Peters. Photography © 2019 by Meike Peters. Published by Prestel.
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