This past Saturday, I got up, and it was cold, cloudy and drizzling rain. I went to work, and five hours later when I left, it was still cool and drizzlish. Comfort food, is what I thought. Something heavy. Meaty. How about something from my newest recipe book Meat: A Kitchen Education by James Peterson. (Yeah, I'm sure you're surprised that a barbecue blogger is buying new meat books).
So I bought some beef shanks, at less than $3 a pound, a nice cheap cut. And by the time I exited the grocery store, it was sunny, warm and beautiful. Comfort food. On a warm beautiful day. I suffer.
5 cross-cut beef shanks
3 whole cloves
1 head garlic, halved
3 cups full-bodied red wine
3 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp veal stock
1 pound cremini mushrooms
Heat some oil in a pan until it's screaming hot. Drop in a couple of the shanks at a time. Sear them on each side. About 5 minutes per side.
Pull the shanks out, and repeat with all the other shanks. Fit the browned shanks into a casserole pot. Cut the onions in half and peel. Place cloves into onions. Peel the carrots, and chop them up. Put the onions, carrots and garlic into the pot.
Prepare a bouquet garni of celery, fresh thyme and bay leaves tied up.
Place bouquet garni into the pot. Pour wine over the mix.
For the wine, we used a 2 buck chuck Shiraz. Not a bad use for it, really.
Top up with chicken stock and water to cover everything. Add the veal stock and boil for two to three hours, until the meat softens up.
Fish out the meat and the carrots. Be gentle, as the bones will have loosened.
Discard all the other solids (onions, bouquet garni, etc). Boil the remaining liquid for 30-40 minutes, until reduced to half the volume.
Heat the oven to 400°F. Add the meat back to the reduced sauce. Add the mushrooms.
Bake in the oven, uncovered for 40 minutes, basting frequently. You want the meat to take on a nice glaze, and to cook the mushrooms.
Serve with a nice loaf of fresh bread.
This is comfort food at it's finest. Meaty, rich, delicious. And the bone marrow that survived through the process was quite a nice treat. And the broth is something really special.
Make this on a cold day in this winter. You'll love it.