Braised Beef Shanks with Coconut Milk, Ginger and Cumin
I purchased some beef shanks that were about 1½ inches thick from my friends at the Farmers Market in Ardmore, PA. I have braised lamb shank, veal shank and pork shank so I was excited to see how beef shanks would compare.
The recipe was adapted from The Complete Meat Cookbook, one of the best cookbooks in my collection. If you want to learn about beef, pork or lamb, this book is a must. Not only does it have loads of great recipes, it has tons of information about meat cuts and how to cook them.
One thing I noticed when the shanks started cooking was a peculiar smell in the kitchen. To be honest, it wasn’t that appetizing but after about 45 minutes, the “peculiar” smell changed into an appealing one. So don’t be alarmed if you start off with a funky aroma.
The original recipe calls for coating each shank with a flour, salt & pepper combination. I skipped this step and it didn’t seem to upset the finally outcome.
I was concerned the spices might be more than my kids could handle but was pleasantly surprised when both of them told me they enjoyed both the meat and the sauce. Like other braised shank meat dishes, even if the meat is over cooked and a little dry, the sauce makes up for it. And the marrow from the shank bones was incredible.
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons peanut oil (I used extra virgin olive oil because that's all I had)
2 ½ cups chopped onions
2 carrots cut into ¼ inch dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste
4 pounds beef shanks, cut 1 ½ to 2 inches thick
2 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1-teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 ¾ cups brown stock (beef stock)
1 ½ cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 cinnamon stick, 3 cardamom pods, lightly smashed
2 bay leaves - wrapped in some cheesecloth
Freshly chopped cilantro for garnish
How To Prepare At Home
Start by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a large enough Dutch oven or roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the butter melts, add the onion, carrots, garlic and ginger.
Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables begin to soften. This should take about 10 minutes. Be sure to stir every once in a while so the vegetables don't burn. Remove the vegetables from the pan and reserve.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan along with 1 tablespoon of oil and turn up the heat to medium high. When the butter melts, start browning the beef shanks on all sides. Don't overcrowd the pan. If you can't fit them all into the pan without touching each other, brown some separately. When all the shanks are brown, remove them and reserve them on a large plate.
Reduce the heat once again to medium and add the coriander, cumin, turmeric and red pepper flakes. All you want to do is have the spices release the oils from them. This should take about 1 minute.
Add ½ cup of the brown stock and stir while trying to scrape up and brown "stuff" from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 1-¼ cups of brown stock and the coconut milk, stir and bring to a boil.
Add the shanks back to the pan and then the vegetables. Next add the cheesecloth filled with spices. Cover and place the Dutch oven or pan into the preheated oven and cook (braise) for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours until the meat is tender and shrinks away from the bone.
When the shanks are tender, carefully remove them from the pan to a large platter and cover with foil. If the braising liquid is overly greasy, use a spoon to remove some of the fat.
On top of the stove, reduce the braising liquid over medium-high heat until it starts to thicken. Remove the cheesecloth with spices, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Serve the shanks over mashed potatoes, basmati rice or noodles and then spoon some sauce over everything and finish the plate with a garnish of cilantro.
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