Beef Shank

Recipe: Port Wine Braised Beef Shank

This will undoubtedly become a family favorite...and the fragrance as it cooks will fill your house with anticipation. The eating will bring appreciation. Combine those and you have memories that last a lifetime. I know - I and my 9 siblings still recall those great aromas that filled our house every night.  Thanks, Mom.

Have you noticed the beef and pork shanks showing up in your monthly coolers? The shanks represent our continuing effort to introduce heritage cuts back into the American kitchen. Shanks fell out of style to a great degree because they require a degree of cooking skill and we just got too busy to develop those skills. Harumph I say to that. Let’s get back in the kitchen and learn - the rewards are great, the satisfaction immeasurable, both for the cook and the eaters.
Here’s a tested recipe for either beef or pork shanks (you may want to substitute sherry for the port if you have pork shanks).

Port Wine Braised Beef Shank

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 to 3 lbs beef shank
  • 1 large onion, halved and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup Port Wine Vegetable Stock, to cover
  • Olive Oil, for searing
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Watercress as a garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place a large dutch oven or stock-pot with a tight fitting lid over medium high heat. Season both sides of beef generously with salt and pepper. Add 2 tbsp. olive oil to pot and swirl to coat. Place Beef shank in pan and cook for 2-4 minutes per side, or until a deep, rich crust is formed.
  2. Toss in onions, garlic and Italian seasoning. Pour wine over shank and shake pan vigorously. Add stock until beef is barely visible. Press vegetables down with spoon. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 4 to 5 hours, or until beef is fork-tender.
  3. Test for seasoning (Chances are you’ll need to add a good bit of salt and pepper at this point) and simmer an additional 20 minutes. Serve over rice, topped with just a bit of watercress, if desired.

The Frugal Chef

Farmers are frugal but not pound foolish, using their resources to their potential while also enhancing them for the next season.. We cannot afford to waste our grasses, our garden, or our orchard or woods. The goal is to use them wisely. You can and probably do, adopt the same attitude in the kitchen. Waste is a bad thing in all aspects of life - it’s just plain sinful. So let’s talk about how to make these clean, nutritious meats go a long way at your dinner table.

I’ll use a typical cooler of monthly meats and what you can do with them as our working example of how many individual servings can come from one box. My assumption about weights per serving come from my up bringing in the food business. Chefs assume 4 to 6 ounces of meat per individual serving - and chefs always want to have more food than they think they will need.

  • 1 big fat hen weighs 3 lbs. Roast it and yield 1 breast and 1 hind quarter the first night for 2 servings. Trim the other breast and hind quarter the second night for sandwiches, 4 servings. Simmer the wings and the remaining carcass into stock then scrape the attached meat off, toss the carcass, and make a chicken noodle and vegetable soup. At least 4 soup servings. Total servings from 1 big fat hen: 10.
  • 1 beef roast weighs 2 lbs. Make my favorite, the pot roast with plenty of vegetables included. 5 servings. Or use half of the roast for sandwiches the next night and get 7 or 8 servings from the roast (can you tell that I like sandwiches and soups? You can do so much with them in term of variety of taste and nutrients added). Total servings from one roast: 5 to 8
  • 1 pork roast weighs 2 lbs. Ditto the above. Total servings per roast: 5 to 8
  • 2 beef steaks weigh 28 ounces. Treat yourself and get only 2 (massive) servings from the steaks. Total: 2 servings
  • 1 pkg pork or beef shanks weigh 1 lb. Make Osso Bucco and serve 4 or make a pot of beans with the shanks as the compliment and serve 6. Total servings: 4 to 6.
  • 2 pkgs ground beef weighs 2 lbs. Use 1 to make spaghetti carbonara for 4 servings and the other to make quarter pound burgers for 4 more. Or make a beef vegetable soup and add 2 more servings. Total servings: 8-10
  • 2 pkgs ground pork weighs 2 lbs. Ditto above. Total servings: 8-10
  • 2 pkgs country sausage weighs 28 ounces. Grill and eat and get 7 servings or make a sausage and bean on rice dish and extend it to 10 hearty servings. Total servings: 7 to 10.
  • 1 pkg beef or pork cutlets weighs ½ pound: Bread it and fry in your pork lard and make 2 servings. Total servings: 2

As a frugal chef, you will yield at least 51 and as many as 66 generous servings from 1 cooler of meat. And I have no doubt that you will find even more ways to stretch it - these are the obvious ones.

Food is life, just as essential as  air, water and sunshine. We can have it all if we are frugal and wise.