Beef shanks are an inexpensive cut that, cooked properly, can be incredibly flavourful and tender. Some of our area’s best beef, including the shanks I used to test this recipe, comes from Roadapple Ranch, one of the Ottawa Farmers’ Market’s numerous vendors offering high quality meat. The secret is searing the meat then slowly braising or roasting it in an aromatic liquid to enhance the meat’s natural flavour. This recipe, inspired by this month’s Farmers’ Feast project, is very similar to osso bucco, which is traditionally made with veal shanks. As with many slow-roasted recipes, you can easily prepare this dish ahead of time, then reheat it just before serving. Don’t skip the parsley and lemon garnish – it really perks up the flavour!
- 2 pounds (900 g) beef shanks
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) each salt and pepper
- 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons (45 mL) canola, divided
- 1 cup (250 mL) chopped onions
- 1 cup (250 mL) chopped celery
- 1 cup (250 mL) chopped carrots
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) dry sherry or white wine
- 2 cups (500 mL) chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) cumin
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) smoked paprika
- 1 large lemon, zested
- 1 cup parsley chopped
- Preheat oven to 300F.
- Season both sides of the beef shanks with salt and pepper.
- Put flour in a shallow dish and dredge beef shanks.
- Heat 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of the oil in a large skillet, then brown the shanks, in batches if necessary to prevent overcrowding, for 4 to 5 minutes on each side. Transfer seared shanks to a plate.
- Add remaining tablespoon (15 mL) of oil and add onions, celery, and carrots and sauté until vegetables begin to brown. Add chopped garlic and sauté for another moment or two. Add cumin and paprika, and stir, letting spices toast for a minute.
- Add the sherry or wine and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond (browned bits) from the bottom of the pan. When sherry has nearly evaporated, remove the pot from the heat.
- Put one third of the sautéed vegetables in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy-duty, oven-safe dish with a tight lid. Place beef shanks and any accumulated juices on top and add remaining sautéed vegetables.
- Add just enough chicken broth to cover the shanks by about an inch (2.5 cm).
- Cover the pot and put in the oven. Roast for at least 3 hours, until meat is tender. At this point you can refrigerate if not serving immediately.
- Just before serving, combine lemon zest and parsley in a small bow.
- Transfer meat to a warmed platter along with the vegetables and half the sauce, then garnish with the lemon-parsley mixture.
- Put remaining sauce in a jug and pass it at the table.