Cross Cut Shanks are to me the epitome of "comfort food." I can't think of anything better than coming in from a long day of work, cold and hungry and smelling the wonderful aroma of dinner simmering in the crockpot, and shanks are the perfect crock pot dish. Tender, delicious, falling-off-the-bone goodness with its own meaty broth.
Now the cooking connoisseurs - of which I am certainly not one - will say you MUST brown your meat before putting it in the pot, and I agree it adds a lot of wonderful flavor and I truly recommend it. But if you are really pressed for time, throw the shanks in the pot raw with the veggies, simmer on low all day and it will still be great.
Here is a recipe from The Kitchen website for Slow Cooker Recipe: Peppered Beef Shank in Red Wine which is really good. I personally decrease the amount of red wine and garlic, and add a couple of teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce and serve it over mashed potatoes. Either way I know it will taste great and you and your family will enjoy it.
Cross Cut Shanks
Slow Cooker Peppered Beef Shank in Red Wine
serves 4 to 6 as a main course
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds beef crosscut shank, fat trimmed away
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Vegetable or peanut oil
- 10 to 12 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 large stalk celery, roughly chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 750 ml bottle inexpensive red wine, such as Charles Shaw Cabernet Sauvignon
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Heat a wide, deep skillet over medium high heat. Pat the beef shanks dry and season generously with salt and pepper. Add a drizzle of oil to the pan, and when it hot, add the beef shank. Sear the meat for at least 7 minutes on each side, creating a dark brown crust. When the meat has been thoroughly browned, remove from the pan and place in a slow cooker insert.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic, onion, and celery. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, letting the onion acquire some browning and color. Add the bay leaf and the rosemary sprig, and pour in the red wine and broth. Add 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. The liquid should reduce by about 1/3.
Pour the sauce and vegetables over the meat in the slow cooker. Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on LOW. You will know the meat is done when it is extremely tender and has fallen away from the bone and into small pieces.
If you do not wish to serve it right away, refrigerate. This also makes it easier to remove the excess fat. Spoon out any chilled shards of fat after the shanks have been refrigerated for several hours. To serve, heat gently in its sauce in a Dutch oven or saucepan on the stovetop. Taste and if necessary add additional salt.
Serve over polenta or pasta.