Why This Recipe Works
- Divide the large pieces of shank into two pans or pots to avoid overcrowding and ensure even cooking.
- The aromatics and braising liquid blend together to form a smooth, rich sauce.
- A dash of soy sauce adds earthy complexity to the finished dish.
If there's one kind of wine that I love to always have around home, it's boxed wine. I know that sounds strange, but I have a reason: I use it for cooking. Cooking with wine can be tricky, because recipes may call for a half cup or two quarts. It often leaves you in the awkward position of having to decide whether to open a bottle just for that half cup, or hem and haw over whether it's really worth it to pour a large amount of wine into a dish.
I know, this is where most people chime in and say, I'll tell you what to do with any wine that's left over: drink it. And yes, that is sometimes a fun option, but the truth is I don't always want to guzzle wine just because it's open. Boxed wine solves my dilemma. First, there's some pretty decent wine sold in boxes now—some of it good enough to drink and a lot of it good enough to cook with. (We shared a few favorite boxed wines a few years back in case you're curious.) Second, boxed wine tends to cost less than bottles since its shipping costs are lower (transporting cardboard is less expensive than heavier glass bottles). And third, it keeps much longer after opening, thanks to the airtight bags inside the box that collapse as you pour out wine. All you have to do is dispense as much as you need from the spout, and leave the rest for later.
So once we've solved the wine problem, what should we make? These braised beef shanks are a great place to start. I made them using a full six cups of dry red wine from a box, which is roughly the equivalent of two 750ml bottles. That's a lot of wine—and the box is still more than half full!
It's a very simple dish. The shanks are large—my 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven could only fit three shanks side-by-side—so you'll either need a roasting pan large enough to hold them, or you'll have to divide them between two pots (Dutch ovens and straight-sided sauté pans will work).
I start by searing the shanks until browned on both sides. Then I set them aside and cook diced aromatics like onion and carrot until tender. I add the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer it until the raw alcohol smell has mostly cooked off. Then I add the shanks back to the pan and braise them in a low oven until they're tender, which takes about three hours.
Once they're done, I set the shanks aside once more, skim off some of the fat, and then blend the braising liquid and vegetables together to make a sauce, thinning it with a little liquid as necessary. A dash of soy sauce adds some earthy complexity.
It's a great make-ahead dish: like most braises, it gets even better as it sits. Just make sure not to miss out on that marrow in each of the bones. It's possibly the best part.
Red Wine-Braised Beef Shanks Recipe
Tender, fall-off-the-bone meat in a rich sauce of blended braising liquid and aromatic vegetables equals winter comfort.
6 beef hindquarter shanks (about 1 1/2 inches thick and 1 pound each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced
6 medium carrots, diced
12 medium cloves garlic, minced
6 cups dry red wine
4 sprigs thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Hot water or chicken stock, as needed
Minced parsley, for serving
Preaheat oven to 300°F. Season shanks all over with salt and pepper. In a large heavy roasting pan (alternatively, you can use 2 large pots such as Dutch ovens or straight-sided sauté pans, splitting ingredients between them), heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add shanks and cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer shanks to a platter.
Lower heat to medium-high and add onion, carrot, and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Add wine, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to a simmer; lower heat to medium and cook until raw alcohol smell has mostly cooked off, about 20 minutes.
Add thyme and bay leaves. Nestle shanks in cooking liquid so that they are almost mostly but not completely submerged; pour any accumulated juices from shanks into the roasting pan. Cut out a piece of parchment paper about the size of the roasting pan (or pots). Cut a hole in the center of the parchment and press against surface of shanks. Transfer to oven and braise until shanks are tender, about 3 hours.
Discard parchment and transfer shanks to a clean platter. Skim rendered fat off surface of braising liquid and discard thyme and bay leaves. Using an immersion blender or blender, blend aromatics and braising liquid to form a smooth sauce. Thin with warm water or stock as needed to create a consistency just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add soy sauce and season with salt and pepper.
Serve shanks with sauce, sprinkling parsley on top. Shanks can be refrigerated in their sauce for up to 4 days. Reheat before serving, and thinning reheated sauce if necessary with water.
1 roasting pan or 2 pots (such as Dutch oven and/or straight-sided sauté pan), immersion blender or standing blender
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 23g||29%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 22g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||13%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 13mg||63%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|