Sunday, December 2, 2012

Grass-Fed Beef Shanks


Two couples from my box bought a grass-fed cow, to share. Lucky for me it was bigger than they thought it was going to be. They called me up and asked if I wanted some beef shanks - they didn't know what to do with them. Lucky me! (Thanks again - I love you guys!)

Beef shanks are crosscut pieces of the cow's leg, usually marked front leg (smaller) and back leg. It has great meat, but also muscle and tendons AND a big chunk of very important bone.  You can't cook it fast, and I guess that's why it's not a popular cut of beef.

But, beef shanks are so worth it, if cooked slowly. The minerals in the bone are so important for OUR bones and connective tissue. The marrow cooks out and makes the sauce thick and rich and so good for you. Beef broth adds to the flavor and keeps things moist. Balsamic vinegar adds just the right interesting taste of acidity to the mix. The onions are so delicious in all this rich goodness.

This recipe is for a slow cooker, but you can't just plop them in there. The frontwork is where you build the flavor. Do it like this:

I heated up a big skillet to medium high. I added 2-3 TBSP of coconut oil.
I patted 3 thawed beef shanks dry and salt and peppered them. I used the Salt Traders Cherry Wood smoked Sea Salt. (salttraders.com)  I added the shanks to the hot skillet, getting a satisfying sizzle. I seared them on each side for 7 minutes each. I wanted them very browned.

                            (Can you see how thick these shanks are? Aren't they beautiful?)

I took them out of the skillet and put them right into the slow cooker.
I immediately turned my skillet down a little, to medium and added 2 TBSP minced garlic and 2 large organic yellow onions that I had peeled and chopped while the shanks were browning.
As I stirred that up, I thought it would need more coconut oil, but the skillet seemed to have plenty of oil. ( Adjust if necessary. You may want to put celery, too. I didn't, just because I am not a big fan of celery)
  I let the onion mixture cook for 15 minutes, stirring now and then. I wanted the onions to get some brown color.

THEN I added 2 bay leaves and 1 tsp of rosemary. I also added 4 cups Kitchen Basics Beef Broth. I brought it to a boil and turned it down and simmered it for 20 minutes. This reduced my liquid some, of course.
Then I poured the onion-beef broth mixture on the beef shanks in the slow cooker. I added 2 TBSP of Colavita Balsamic Vinegar and stirred. I put the lid on and let it cook for 3 1/2 hours on high. ( 8 hours on low would have been better... either way.)

The meat had come away from the big bones and was tender. I took the bones out and pushed the bone marrow out and stirred it up in the dinner. ( Don't act like that's weird - Google it. That stuff is AMAZING for your bones, and MY bones. We all want strong bones - we lift heavy things up over our heads!)
I served this yummy grass-fed protein with yellow squash, butternut squash, and spinach, all together.

I put the slow cooker in the refrigerator since there were leftovers and made the most wonderful stew-soup stuff the next day.  I'll write that up soon, too!