I had these beef shanks, see? I needed to make dinner quick, see?
Eh, too tired to finish that bit.
…But I didn’t want anything super heavy. My normal go-to in the braised beef department is a classic red wine/beef stock reduction with mirepoix and root veggies, served over rich and tangy sour cream grits. It’s incredible and one of my favorite plates of food of all time. But…I’d just gotten over food poisoning, so anything rich and heavy did NOT sound appetizing. So I called up mah momma, like I do sometimes when my brain isn’t working properly, and started talking out what I wanted to do. First I switched up the starch and thought I’d make something to be served over brown rice instead of my usual grits… and somehow, somewhere it turned into a slow cooked version of a Chinese stir-fry. Or more specifically, something like a beef and broccoli (served in a brown sauce), but done with a slow cooking cut of meat.
I’d never heard of such a thing!! Which, naturally, got me quite excited.
And it ended up really really good! It tastes quite like the American/Chinese classic, ‘Beef and Broccoli’, but with other veggies. Except here the oven does most of the work for you, AND it was soo much healthier. AND was very easy to make. AND the whole family enjoyed it!
But the bonus for me was watching my kids eat their bone marrow with their chopsticks…
Below is my 4 year old daughter loving hers.
(Not pictured is my 7 year old son digging in across the table.)
*chef mom drops mic and exits*
I feel like this is a great alternative to a standard beef shank braise, (much lighter!), and a really good option for a day when you wanna come home to dinner already done. Like, maybe, Halloween night while you’re out trick or treating?
Just a thought…
STIR-BRAISED BEEF SHANKS
First we rub our meat.
Lay out 4 1/2-5 lbs of beef shanks (generally 5-6 shanks, depending on size) and season liberally (on both sides) with…
- kosher salt
- chinese 5 spice
In a large, high sided skillet (or a large dutch oven) over medium-high heat, with some canola or vegetable oil, sear the shanks until dark golden brown on one side, then flip to do the same on the other side.
Remove and set aside.
Add to the pan…
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and whacked with the back of a knife to help release its aroma
- 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly smashed but kept whole
- optional- a couple dried chilies
Saute until they pick up some color and the onions begin to sweat some of their water out.
Deglaze the pan with…
- 1 cup dry, red wine (cabernet is a solid choice)
Stir and scrape to release the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, then add…
- 1/2 cup dry, sherry (not ‘cooking sherry’, please, but the actual sherry found in the wine section)
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
- 2 cups beef broth or stock
Add in 4 cloves, wrapped in cheesecloth and tied for a bouquet garni.
Place your seared shanks back in the pan and bring the liquid up to a boil.
Cover and place in a preheated 350 degree oven and cook for 2 hours.
Remove from the oven, skim off the fat at the top of the liquid.
- 6 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
- 1 lb. broccoli florets (about 2 cups worth)
- 1/2 lb sugar snap peas, cleaned
- 2 bell peppers, seeded and cut into chunks
- optional- a small can each of sliced water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and/or baby corn
Replace the lid and return the pan to the oven and continue to cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the veggies have cooked but still retain some of their integrity. If you have a hyperactive oven, perhaps check after 10 minutes just to be sure you don’t have veggie mush 😉
**AT THIS POINT, BEGIN TO COOK YOUR BROWN RICE…
Bring to a boil 1 cup of dry, brown rice and 2 1/4 cups water seasoned with a bit of salt.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and continue to cook while you finish your shanks. Brown rice can take anywhere from 30-45 minutes, depending on the boil level of your stove.
Once the veggies have cooked to your liking, place the pan on the stove and turn the burner on medium-high.
In a small bowl or ramekin, mix together…
- 1 TB of cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp fish sauce
- a few splashes of soy sauce
Stir with a fork until the cornstarch has dissolved, and pour into your now simmering pot. Stir into the liquid.
As it boils, it will thicken and become glossy.
Taste to check your seasoning, adding more soy, vinegar or sherry if you and your tongue deem necessary. And now is the time to spice it up if you want – some sriracha, etc.
Remove the clove bouquet garni and discard.
Serve over your brown rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.
Bonus points for eating the marrow and using chopsticks 😉