How to Cook Beef Shanks

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Beef shanks add rich flavor to a variety of dishes. They are typically sold as cross-cut, bone-in shanks, with a marrow-rich bone in the center of the meat. Simmer beef shanks along with aromatics and vegetables to make a flavorful broth. Braising, pressure-cooking and slow-cooking the shanks also tenderizes the meat and unlocks the bold flavor.

How to Cook Beef Shanks
(Santy Gibson/Demand Media)

Beef broth isn't the only dish that can be made by simmering beef shanks. Slowly cooking the shanks in a pot of simmering liquid, along with aromatics such as onion or garlic, gives you the base for a deeply flavored soup or stew. Shanks typically take one to two hours to simmer. Pair them with vegetables such as celery, carrots or potatoes. Add your favorite leafy greens such as cabbage or kale, if desired.

Santy Gibson/Demand Media

Start the slow-cooking process by measuring about 1/2 cup of liquid, such as beef broth, red wine or water, for every 1 pound of beef shanks. Add the cooking liquid and aromatics such as minced garlic or chopped onion to the bottom of the slow-cooker. Season the shanks with salt and pepper on both sides and add them to the cooker, stirring the mixture to coat the beef shanks. Cook the shanks on low for roughly five hours and serve immediately, or remove the shanks and thicken the sauce with 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon of water. Let the mixture thicken for about 15 minutes before pouring it over the beef shanks and serving.

Santy Gibson/Demand Media

Braising is a relatively foolproof technique that gives you maximum flavor and fork-tender shanks. Start by searing the beef shanks in a heavy-bottomed skillet or a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the shanks are browned on all sides, remove them and add vegetables -- such as onions, carrots and celery -- to the pot. Stir the mixture frequently and cook until everything is browned. Add braising liquid such as wine or broth, stirring the bottom of the pan to scrape up any flavorful browned bits. Return the meat to the pan, bring it to a simmer and cover the pan. Place it in an oven that's been preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Santy Gibson/Demand Media

Pressure cooking beef shanks give you tender meat and rich flavor in a fraction of the time that it traditionally takes to cook them. Start by browning the shanks in melted butter or heated oil over medium-high heat for about two minutes per side. Add aromatics such as onions, mushrooms and garlic to the cooker, stirring them until they are soft and slightly browned. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the shanks and stir before adding 2 to 3 cups of red wine or beef broth to the shanks. Stir in herbs such as parsley, bay leaf or fresh oregano. Cook the shanks on high for two minutes before reducing it to medium-low and cooking for 40 minutes.

Santy Gibson/Demand Media

References

  • Beef'n-Up Your Dinner Plate; Chef L. David Bishop
  • Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors; Susanna Hoffman and Victoria Wise
  • The Complete Meat Cookbook; Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
  • Slow Cooking for Two; Cynthia Graubart
  • The Easy Pressure Cooker Cookbook; Diane Phillips
  • Joy of Cooking: All About Soups and Stews; Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
  • The Pressure Cooker Gourmet; Victoria Wise
  • Bon Appetit: Four Simple Rules for Braising Anything
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