Who can say no to tender, braised meat in a rich sauce flavored with wine and vegetables, not to mention that ultra-flavorful and tender marrow inside a shank? The slow cooker makes the whole thing pretty darned easy, while beef shanks make it a heck of a lot cheaper than veal.
Why this recipe works:
- Bone-in beef shanks are dredged in flour and browned, plus vegetables are sautéed, before they're transferred to the slow cooker. This adds flavor to the slow braise.
- Removing the sauce and thickening it with a touch of flour after cooking gives it a rich, gravy-like consistency.
- A bright, simple parsley, lemon zest and garlic gremolata brightens and lightens the otherwise rich dish.
- For the Shanks:
- 4 cross-cut, bone-in beef shanks (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour, divided
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 2 carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 stalk celery, diced (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch ground cloves
- For the Gremolata:
- 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon grated zest from 1 or 2 lemons
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
For the Shanks: Pat shanks dry using a paper towel. Place 1 cup flour on a plate. Season beef with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until lightly smoking. Add meat and cook without moving until well browned on first side, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook until browned on second side, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer to a slow cooker.
Add onion, carrots, and celery to the Dutch oven, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin have softened, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and garlic. Stir and continue cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot using a wooden spoon.
Transfer the contents to a slow cooker and add stock, vinegar, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, and ground clove. Season with salt and pepper and cook on low until meat is tender, about 6 hours.
Remove and discard thyme sprigs and bay leaves. Skim fat from the sauce and transfer 1/2 cup of gravy to a medium saucepan. Whisk the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour into the reserved gravy until no lumps remain. Add the rest of the sauce to the saucepan. Whisking frequently, bring the sauce to a rolling boil over high heat and cook until the sauce achieves a gravy-like consistency, about 4 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
For the Gremolata: Meanwhile, combine parsley, lemon zest, and garlic in a small bowl
Arrange shanks on a platter and spoon sauce on top. Garnish with gremolata and serve.
Dutch oven, slow cooker