By Liz Bares
Here’s a hearty meal for your meat-and-potatoes guy. Beef shanks are hard to come by right off the shelf. However, if you ask nicely at the butcher shop inside Tops in Olean, they will cut you some!
Add some crusty bread, a salad and a nice bottle of wine and you’ve got a fancy dinner. To make this an even more substantial meal, you could serve it with smashed potatoes or polenta.
Valentine’s Day Beef Shank Stew
2 to 2 1/2 pounds beef shanks
grape seed oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
10-12 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large stalk celery
1 big sprig of thyme
1 bottle inexpensive red wine
4 cups beef stock
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1) Dry your beef shanks with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. In a large sauté pan, drizzle about a tablespoon of oil. Heat oil until very hot (grape seed is good to use because of its high smoking point) over medium high heat. Then add the shanks. Cook on each side for about 6-8 minutes. The secret here is to make sure your pan is piping hot before you place the shanks in there. You want to make certain you are getting a really good brown (not burnt) crust on each side of the shank. This will make your stew more flavorful.
2) Once your shanks are nicely browned on both sides, place them into your slow cooker. Then turn down the heat on your stove to medium. To the pan, add garlic, onion and celery. Using a wooden spoon, stir the veggies around and cook them about 8-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the onions and celery to get some color on them. Again, a flavor step.
3) When the veggies are nicely caramelized, put the sprig of thyme and bay leaf into the pan. Add the wine and stock. Then add pepper. Stir everything around very carefully. Use the spoon to try and pick up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan to maximize flavor! Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Then lower to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
4) Now, carefully pour the hot liquid into the slow cooker with your beef shanks. Add the 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar to the slow cooker. Put the lid on the cooker and turn to low. Cook for 7-8 hours on low. The beef should be falling off the bone and the marrow should be out of the bone. Stir everything together gently. Take out the bones. The liquid will be a bit thin.