Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sinfully Irresistible Portuguese Inspired Braised Beef Shanks with Warm Spices



Everyone has a favorite cooking method. Some prefer grilling, others baking,  others enjoy pressure cooking, but I am "braising machine". Braising (from the French “braiser”), is a combination cooking method using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular flavor. Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting, though some authors make a distinction between the two methods based on whether additional liquid is added

This Portugese-inspired recipe is quite special. What makes it so unique is the unusual combination of spices. Cinamoon, cloves, all-spice berries, and molasses are used. The aroma is so strong that penetrates every corner of your house. My dogs were "literally" salivating at my feet evey time I open the lid. I've never, ever, seen them behaving like this. It was quite funny. When you see your dogs drooling that is a sign that you have just created a killer dish. Right?

The best part of this recipe is scooping the delectable marrow from the shank bone.

Eating bone marrow is a delicacy that seems to be catching up in many fine dinning restaurants.  They are silky and rich, and oozing with blissful beef essence.  It  is truly a delectable experience not to be missed. Trust me on this one ;-)



Ingredients

Serves 4


1 tsp. mixed peppercorns,
1 tsp. whole Allspice Berries
6 whole cloves
Two 3-inch cinnamon sticks
Two bay leaves
1 large rosemary sprig
Tie these into a cheesecloth pouch, set aside.


4 thick center-cut beef shanks (about 3 1/2 lbs total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil


1 big can whole tomatoes, cut up in their juices
1 large yellow onions, diced

6 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 celery ribs, cut into 1/4-inch dice



2 1/2 cups beef stock or store-bought low-sodium broth
2 cups dry red wine
1 tablespoon of white balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 chicken bouillon
¼ cup of dark molasses


½ cup of lentils (optional)

Directions

Season the beef shanks with salt and pepper. Dust them with flour, shaking off the excess. In a large skillet, heat the olive oi and cook over moderate heat until richly browned, about 4 minutes per side.

Remove beef shanks from skillet and add the onions, carrots and celery into the same pan. When vegetables are softened, add the tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute more.

Heat over to 350°

Transfer the vegetables to a Dutch oven and add the stock, wine, vinegar, molasses, canned tomatos, the chicken bouillon, and 1 tsp. salt to the pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat, return the beef shanks and any accumulated juices to the pot and nestle in the spice pouch.

Cover and braise the beef in the oven. After 3 hours add the lentils to the pot. Beef should be done after 31/2 to 4 hours.

When the beef shanks are tender to the fork remove it from the pot and discard any rubbery bits still clinging to the meat and toss out the spice pouch.

Divide the meat, and bones with marrow among four bowls and serve on top of a hearty starch. Coat with the remaining sauce on top.

Note: The polenta pictured on the photo is a "savory polenta". It was made by adding chicken stock, butter, and cream cheese to cornmeal.
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