I know this beef man from Ireland, and Conor Bofin is his name. He’s the closest I know to a connoisseur of any part of the damned cow that I know, even the unusual and sketchy bits. But he can cook the most amazing meals with that lowly bovine, so I jumped on the chance to sort-of copy-cat this wonderful braise of beef shanks with some nice meaty ones from our quarter cow.
While my photos won’t do it justice — and I wasn’t about to try and plate it for a shot — I think anyone who makes this will be satisfied with the most delicious gravy and tender beef. I served mine with some Parmesan risotto, but pasta or potatoes would work fantastic too. One of my deviations from the original recipe was to reduce the mushrooms (not enough on hand) and add a couple of almost-overripe tomatoes to the braise, which added a wonderful color and flavor to the gravy. (The long braise makes your house smell dreamy, too!)
Braised Beef Shanks with Tomatoes
Adapted from Daub of Beef from One Man’s Meat
2 meaty beef shanks, seasoned with pepper and salt
1 tablespoon high-heat oil (I used grapeseed)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Half of a very large onion, chunked up
4 ounces whole white mushrooms, quartered
2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut in eighths
Half head of garlic, peeled and sliced thick
2 1/2 cups homemade or high-quality beef stock
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup good red wine (I used an Oregon Pinot Noir)
2 bay leaves
Handful of thyme sprigs
Black pepper and salt, to taste
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Season the beef shanks with pepper and salt, then score the membrane in several places on the sides. Heat a Dutch oven to medium high heat and add the oil, then sear the beef until very browned on all sides. Remove and set aside to a plate.
Add the butter, then toss in the onions and mushrooms. Reduce heat a bit. Cook and stir until the mushrooms have browned and onions are softened.
Top with the tomatoes and garlic, then pour in the beef stock. Grind more pepper over if your feeling it. Stir in the tomato paste until combined. Now pour in the red wine and bring up a a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Nestle the beef shanks into the liquid, then add in the bay leaves and thyme.
Cover and cook in the oven for 4 to 5 hours, until beef is fall-apart tender. Remove the beef to a plate, then remove the bay leaves and thyme sprigs and gently stir gravy to combine. Taste for additional seasonings and add, if needed. Serve each shank with risotto, pasta, or potatoes, topping the shanks with a generous amount of gravy and veggies.