Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Cooking Grass-Fed Beef: Episode 4 – Beef Shanks Braised in Three-Onion Broth

This video recipe for Beef Shanks Braised in Three Onion Broth is the fourth in a series of videos I'm doing that focus on cooking various cuts of grass-fed beef.

These
beautiful beef shanks came from Steve Normanton, and were everything you want a braised shank to be -- moist, tender, sticky, and comforting.

As I looked around for ideas on how to do these grass-fed beef shanks, I kn
ew I was going to slowly braise them (really the only way to go), but I couldn't decide what exactly to braise them in. So many options, so little time.

I saw a few recipes that called for the shanks to be cooked in a broth made from instant onion soup packets. As much as the thought of taking these wonderfully wholesome, all-natural, grass-fed shanks and sticking them in a sodium-packed, MSG-laced, artificially flavored and colored, dry soup mix repulsed me, the idea of cooking them in a French onion soup sounded pretty good.

It was better than pretty good -- it was fantastic! The collagen-rich shanks broke down beautifully and the combination of those succulent chucks of meat, sweet melted onions, buttery marrow, and rich aromatic sauce over the soft polenta, made for a very impressive bowl of food.

As I mention in the video, beef shanks are like a two-for-one deal. Not only do you get the marvelous meat, but you also get one marrowbone per shank! If you've never had beef marrow before, do yourself a favor and get some beef shanks and make this recipe.

Thanks to Steve Normanton as usual for providing such great beef to work with. By the way, those of you who want to cook with grass-fed beef, but don't like it medium-rare, should give this beef shank recipe a try -- it's basically impossible for the dish not to be delicious. Enjoy!



Ingredients:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 beef shanks (about 1 1/2-inch thick)
3 large onions
1 bay leave
6 springs thyme
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 cups beef broth
chives to garnish

45 comments:

Anonymous said...

I had a fried egg sandwich for dinner tonight. Do you have any idea how good those beef shanks look?

Anonymous said...

you are killing me. killing me.
(im a vegetarian).

popsu said...

Nice one John! This is what I'll definately do on my next free weekend.

Flo said...

Steve Normanton sells oxtail... so when are we going to see some oxtail stew, Chef John?

Flo said...

Steve Normanton sells oxtail... so when are we going to see some oxtail stew, Chef John??

Anonymous said...

Could you brown the shanks in the stockpot, remove them, saute the onions in the pot and add the shanks back in- thus saving having to wash that saute pan?

Chef John said...

sure

Anonymous said...

that recipe looks amazing and i had steak for dinner! though my judgment could be skewed from the alcoholic beverages i have also consumed!

Asian-Malaysian said...

Chef John, mirepoix can be a pain in the butt for weekend cooks since they wont sell celery by the stalk. Im thinking of preparing and freezing small bags of the stuff. Given limited freezer space I have, Im even half-thinking reducing it into a soffritto before bagging and freezing it. Please Suze Orman approve/deny my plan.

Chef John said...

I definitely approve!

KrisD said...

So amazing looking! I am a huge marrow fan (lord help my arteries I had marrow on toast AND rib eye with marrow for dinner this week)

I can't wait for it to get a little cooler so I can make this!

p.s. I am making your fried green tomatoes tonight with my own green tomatoes. Cheers!

Elijah said...

I made this dish for my parents last night and it was a big hit. I don't know why you would ever serve this over anything but home made mashed potatoes.

Markus said...

Nice work John

Can you do this in the oven?

I don't trust my electirc stove that much (Please don't tell that to her =))

Chef John said...

yes!

Hurriken said...

I found this video on 5 min Life videopedia. There was no written recipe and it didn't dawn on me to follow the link until after I made it! Duh. I guessed on the amounts except what was mentioned in the video. The only problem was it needed more salt. Other than that it was fantastic. My wife and I cooked it together and had a great time. I have now bookmarked your page.

Anonymous said...

Could you use German thyme

Anonymous said...

could you use German thyme instead of regular thyme

Chef John said...

i've never heard of German thyme, but any herb would work

Anonymous said...

Have been cooking for 20 years but have never cooked beef shanks. If it were not for foodwishes I seriously doubt I ever would have. I was at a market yesterday and happened upon certified organic locally raised beef shanks. I remembered seeing a couple of recipes dealing with these on your site. I am excited to say there is a beef shank in a pot on the stove right now! Thank you.

Clara said...

Just made this tonight and it turned out wonderfully! Served it with truffled mashed potatoes - I was going to make your truffled gratin again but decided against it due to lack of oven space (was baking your no-knead ciabatta) and also fear it would be too rich against the shanks. Even did those cherry pepper poppers again too, so it was a true Chef John feast. Thanks again for all the recipes!
My only regret is that I was so busy cooking and serving food I didn't have time to take any photos. =)

Qin said...

I tried this recipe with osso bucco and it came out wonderful! The liquid turned out to taste almost the same as French onion soup with amazing flavor! I just want everyone to know osso bucco works fine if you cannot get beef shank. Thank you Chef John for this great recipe!

Anonymous said...

I just started this and it smells....*really bad*. I have never cooked a beef shank before and dont know what it is suposed o smell like. It looked very healthy, nice and pink. It smelled bad fresh out of the package and having cooked it is making my home smell really bad. Did I happen to get a bad one or do they just have an "off" smell?

Chef John said...

It has a strong beefy smell, but shouldn't smell "bad" at any point.

Anonymous said...

Cooked this tonight and served it on mashed potato; and it was fabulous. It was worth the 4 hrs wait. :0) I used your mash potato recipe and it's really the best I have ever eaten. Thank you!!!
Ida

Nepenthe said...

Chef, can I use dried herbs? And if so, how much thyme and rosemary?

Chef John said...

yes, but just guessing at amounts... try a tsp of each and see what happens.

Nepenthe said...

Thanks for the fast response. Another question, can this be baked? I've been up all night and want to take a nap, but I don't trust the stove. I want dinner my family to have dinner w/o the firefighters here.

Chef John said...

Sure! Just roast until tender.

Mo said...

This recipe sounds great-- I'm thinking of trying it out tomorrow.

Do you think I can use a slow cooker for the braising portion of this recipe (after browning meat & sauteing the veggies on the stove)? If yes, how long do should it go on the low setting?

Chef John said...

Yes! not sure time, but just go until tender! Enjoy!

miriamchumbi said...

Commenting straight from Nairobi, Kenya. I loved this meal greatly and so did my guests, thank you. I utilised the ingredients as best as I could n cooked it for about 3hrs, the guests were hungry, and it turned out great, thanks. Check out my food blog (still in construction)

Judy Davis said...

Two questions & a comment Chef:
I am thinking--and PLEASE correct me if I am wrong!--that anything that is being braised can be done in a slow cooker instead of on the stove in a low-heat stock pot. And everything else about the recipe would stay the same. Is this a correct thought??

2nd question
WHY do you always skim the fat off the top of cooking liquids. It is an "Americans eat too much fat" thing, a looks thing, or does it do something to the flavor of the food? In my experience, fat=flavor--so I am really curious on this one.

And a comment--OMG!! I have not had beef marrow in a round bone slice like that since I was a kid--and man, I LOVED that stuff!! I dunno what meal it was my Mom was cooking when I got one of those bones--but I remember them sooooo fondly ;) I HAVE to try this out just to re-acquaint myself with the yummyness that is beef marrow!!

Thanks Chef John!! <3 <3 <3

Chef John said...

Yes, slow cooker works! Fat skimmed for appearance and to cut fat content. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Hello. Istead of Beef Shank, can I make this recipe with Beef Osso Bucco? Thanks in advance. Steve

Chef John said...

Same thing!

Playful said...

Marrow weirds me out... Never had it, but just the thought of it makes me shudder... No offense to you John!

Playful said...

Marrow weirds me out... Never had it, but just the thought of it makes me shudder... No offense to you John!

Jeff Kee said...

I'm trying mine but with a twist. I'm slowly sauteeing the onions, about 1 hour at low heat, to fully emulate the french-onion sweetness. Not sure if this will make a difference or not since the whole dish simmers at low for a while, but considering the differences of early caramelization, I'm going to make a bet that the sweetness will be increased!

JDQ said...

Could you do this in the oven instead of the stove top? If so, what temp and how long? I love love love the pomegranate lamb recipe, would it be the same? Thanks!

Chef John said...

yes! until fork tender.

Francisco del Rincon said...

Hi Chef John, these look amazing! Question: are the shanks from the front or the back legs? Which ones will work better?

Thanks!

Jerry Drzewiecki said...

Chef John,
Many recipes which I have read over the years call for "small", "medium"or, "large" onions. What is your more precise description for these sizes? On occasion, what was a large onion at my local grocery last week becomes a medium onion the next week. Wouldn't volumetric measures after chopping or slicing be more accurate? Thanks for your advice.

Maneesha Birdee said...

Chef John, can I do this with oxtail??

Chef John said...

Jerry,
I could've sworn I've answered this before, but here goes...

If I think the recipe would suffer from an inexact onion measurement, that I would call for them by weight or volume, but this is almost never the case. I can't think of a recipe where a few ounce difference would have any real effect. That's why chefs just call for things like 2 onions, 3 carrots, 1 stalk of celery, because it really doesn't matter with these type of ingredients. If you think your onions are a little small, use a little more. Cooking is not exact science, no matter how much people try to make it so.

Chef John said...

Maneesha, Yes!