Beef Shanks

This holiday feast is juicy, full of flavour and will have your guests Ooo-ing and Ahh-ing all evening long.

If you’re up for a non-traditional Christmas dinner this year, this iconic dish is bound to become your next, family-approved classic. Slow-cooked to perfection, this show-stopping platter of beef is topped with a glaze reduction, vegetables and dainty truffle oil fries, then served on a bed of smoked blue cheese polenta. It’s a meal so filling and delicious that you may never go back to turkey dinner again.

By MIKE EDGAR & JENN WEBSTER

BEEF SHANKS

There are two ways to obtain the off-cut of beef that is desirable for this recipe. Firstly, you can ask your local butcher for a whole beef shank tied, or you can have the butcher cut the meat into two to three-inch thick pieces. Cutting them into smaller pieces makes them easier to handle. For this recipe however, we cooked the shanks whole.
 
Ingredients:
2 Whole Beef Shanks, Frenched and Tied.
3 Carrots, Chopped
4 Celery Stocks, Chopped
2 Onions, Chopped
5 Garlic Cloves
250 Grams Fresh Ginger, Chopped
750 mls Red Wine
5 L Beef Stock
5 Thyme Sprigs
4 Rosemary Sprigs
Salt
Ground Black Pepper
2 Cups Brown Sugar
 
Method:
In a large frying pan or Dutch oven heat canola oil on high heat. Generously season the shanks with salt and pepper. Sear all sides of the shanks and transfer to a large pan or Dutch oven. Add carrots, celery, onion, garlic and ginger to the pan you seared the beef in. Sauté until the vegetables start to brown. Add half the wine and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the wine, beef stock, brown sugar, thyme, and rosemary. Bring to a boil and then pour into the pan with the shanks. Cover and braise at 35-degrees Fahrenheit for five hours or until tender.

Cover and braise your beef shanks for five hours, or until tender.


When shanks are done, strain out half the braising liquid into a separate pot to make a glaze. Leave the shanks in the remaining liquid and cover to keep warm. Reduce the strained braising liquid on medium heat, until it reaches a syrup consistency. To serve the shanks, you will need help to prop them up on a platter. You can use your favourite holiday accompaniments. For this recipe, we used a smoked blue cheese polenta, balsamic roasted shallots, roasted squash and grilled bok choy. Please see below for these recipes.

Drizzle the glaze all over the shanks.


Firstly, on the bottom of your platter, pour the polenta down as a base. Then, arrange half of the vegetables around the platter and gently place the shanks in the center – moving any vegetables around as needed, to aid the shanks in standing straight up. Drizzle the glaze all over the shanks. Scatter the remaining vegetables on the platter, and you are ready to impress your guests!
 

Creating the polenta.


SMOKED BLUE CHEESE POLENTA
6 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Cups 35% Cream
2 Cups Coarse Corn Meal
60 gm Butter
200 gm Smoked Blue Cheese
1 Cup Grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
¼ Cup Parsley, Chopped
¼ Cup Chives, Chopped
 
Method:
Bring stock, cream, salt and pepper to a boil, add the corn meal and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring constantly until thick and creamy.
Remove from heat and stir in butter, blue cheese, parmesan, chive, and parsley and you are ready to serve.
 

Dicing up shallots and bok choy.
Roasting the shallots, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.


BALSAMIC ROASTED SHALLOTS

10 Large Whole Shallots, Peeled and Halved
3 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Honey
4 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbsp. Fresh Thyme Leaves
Salt and Pepper
 
Pre-heat oven to 400-degrees Fahrenheit. Melt butter in an oven-safe frying pan over medium heat. Add honey, balsamic, and thyme. Stir to combine. Add your shallots flat side down, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast in oven for 20 to 25min.

Roasted with butter, olive oil and salt, these squash wedges make a delicious addition to the beef shank dish.

ROASTED SQUASH

2 Kabocha Squash, Seeded and Cut into Wedges (leaving the skin on)
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
Salt and Pepper
 
Pre-heat oven to 400-degreesFahrenheit. Heat oil, and butter in a cast iron pan. Place squash in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. After the squash has a nice golden brown sear on one side, flip them and put in the oven to roast for approximately 20 minutes, flipping every five minutes.
 

Grill bok choy on the BBQ for a nice finish.


BOK CHOY

Cut bok choy in halves. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place bok choy flat-side down on a very hot grill and sear for 30 seconds, ensuring each one gets a really nice grill mark. Flip and sear for another 30 seconds and they are ready to eat.

Holiday Beef Wellington

Complimented by porcini mushrooms and a prosciutto wrap underneath melt-in-your-mouth pastry, this beef wellington is what dreams are made of.

A twist on a classic. This crowd-pleasing beef wellington is a perfect centrepiece for your next Christmas dinner.


By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

BEEF WELLINGTON

Ingredients:
1.5 Kg Beef Fillet
2 Tsp. Vegetable or Sunflower Oil
2 x 50g Pack Dried Porcini Mushrooms
25g butter, plus extra for the sauce
500g (1 lb. 2oz) Shitake Mushrooms, Finely Chopped
Handful Fresh Thyme Leaves
6 Slices Prosciutto
1 x 500g Pack Lighter All-Butter Puff Pastry
Plain Flour, for Dusting
1 Egg, Beaten to Glaze
1/2 Cup of Dijon Mustard

For the Sauce

500ml (½pt) Good-Quality Beef Stock
1 Bottle 750ml Shiraz

METHOD

Season the beef with salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan.

Seasoning the meat.

Sear the meat for 30 seconds on all sides until turning golden. Leave to cool.

Searing the meat.

Meanwhile, soak the porcini mushrooms in 250ml (8fl oz) boiling water until softened. Remove from the liquid, squeeze dry, then chop finely. Reserve the soaking liquid. 

Heat the butter in a large frying pan. Add the mushrooms and the thyme. Cook until golden and the pan is dry (up to 20 minutes). Leave to cool completely. Reserve a quarter of the mushrooms in the pan.

Rub the beef with the Dijon Mustard.

Rub the beef generously with the Dijon Mustard.

Put two large sheets of clingfilm on a work surface, overlapping slightly. Place the prosciutto on top, overlapping the edges to make one ‘sheet’ large enough to wrap the beef. Spread with three quarters of the mushroom mixture, then sit the meat on top and spread with the remaining mushrooms.

The beef on the cingfilm with prosciutto and mushroom mixture.

Roll the prosciutto around the beef, using the clingfilm. Wrap tightly and chill for 10 minutes.

Roll the prosciutto around the beef, using the clingfilm. Wrap everything tightly together in the clingfilm.

Set aside a quarter of the pastry. On a floured surface, roll the rest into a square or rectangle big enough to wrap the fillet: approximately 35cm (14-inch) square. Trim to neaten, then roll the edges of the joining sides a little more thinly.

Remove the clingfilm from the beef and position it in the middle of the pastry. Wrap the pastry up along the length of the beef, overlapping slightly at the join. Brush the edges with beaten egg and seal. Fold up each end like a parcel. Transfer to a lightly greased baking tray, seam side down. Roll out the remaining pastry and cut shapes to decorate.

The beef is placed inside the pastry.

Brush the Wellington all over with egg, press on the decorations and brush again. Chill for 20 minutes (or up to 12 hours if you like).

Brushing the pastry with egg with help it seal and allow the details to stick.

Preheat the oven to gas 8, 230°C, fan 210°C and put a baking sheet in the top third. To make the sauce, pour the wine into the pan with the reserved mushrooms. Bring to the boil and simmer until the wine has reduced to about one tablespoon. Add the stock and the porcini mushroom liquid and boil for 10 minutes until syrupy. Season, then stir in one teaspoon of butter. Set aside. 

Put the Wellington and its tray onto the heated baking sheet in the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C, then cook for another 20 minutes for medium-rare meat (15 for rare, 25 for medium). 

Leave to rest for 10 minutes. Warm the sauce through. Serve slices of the Wellington with the sauce and vegetables.

If you’re interested in side dishes to go with this exquisite meal check out our blog here.

Birria Tacos


Not your average “Taco Tuesday” evening dinner.

By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

Birria tacos are becoming all the rage and after one bite, you’ll want them for supper every night too. Birria is traditionally a Mexican dish consisting of a meat stew made from goat meat, and occasionally beef or mutton (but never pork). The stew is slow-cooked and has a savoury, sweet and sour flavour, with a hint of spice.

In Birria tacos, the stew is placed inside a tortilla shell with cheese, dipped in broth and fried up. This isn’t an easy dish to prepare, but once you taste a bite of a Birria taco’s sizzled, cheesy, crispy, goodness – you’ll never want a normal taco again.

BIRRIA STEW INGREDIENTS
 
For the Meat:
1 lb Beef Chuck
1 lb Beef Shank
1 lb Beef Shortrib
2 Tsp. Salt
2 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 Tsp. Ground Cumin
 
For the Broth:
4 Dried New Mexico Chilies
4 Dried Ancho Chilies
1 Can Chipotle Pepper in Adobo
2 Tsp. Whole Peppercorns
2 Cloves
10 Whole Star Anise, Dry
4 Bay Leaves
5 Three-Inch Cinnamon Sticks
1 Tsp. Ground Cumin
1 Tsp. Ground Ginger
8 Garlic Cloves
1 Spanish Onion, Sliced
2 Cups Crushed Tomato
1 Litre Beef Stock
2 Oranges Sliced
1 Tbsp. Salt
1 Cup Brown Sugar
 
For the Tacos:
Tortillas of Your Choice
Diced White Onion
Fresh Cilantro
2 Cups Oaxaca Cheese, Shredded 
Fresh Lime
Fresh Jalapeño
Shredded Stew Meat

METHOD FOR THE MEAT
Remove stems and seeds from chilies. In a pot, bring two cups of water to a boil. Add the chilies and simmer until tender (around two minutes). Add chillies and half the water to a blender and puree until smooth, then add the canned chipotle and puree again until smooth. Set aside until its time to build the stew.
 
Cut your meat into manageable pieces and season with salt pepper and cumin. In a heavy dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil until you start to see it smoke. Brown your meat a little at a time, ensuring you get a good sear. Then remove it from the pot.

Using the same pot, sauté the onion and garlic until soft. Add peppercorns, cumin, ginger, bay leaves, clove, star anise, cinnamon sticks and salt. Sauté for another two minutes. Add your beef, crushed tomato, beef broth, oranges, sugar, and chillie puree.

If the meat is not covered by liquid, add an appropriate amount of water to cover. Bring to a boil, cover and place in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven for four hours. If after four hours the meat is not tender enough to shred, then put the lid back on and continue to cook until tender.
 
After the meat has reached desired texture, remove from the oven and let the meat cool in the broth. Once cooled, remove the meat from the broth and shred with a fork or by hand. Set aside in a bowl.
 
Strain the broth into a pot, making sure all the spices are removed. Keep the broth in the fridge until needed.
 

The stewed meat is placed inside a tortilla with cheese, dipped into broth and then placed into your cast iron pan for frying.
Once one side is fried to crispy goodness, fold the tortilla and fry the other side.

METHOD FOR THE TACOS
Mix the oaxaca cheese into the shredded stew meat. Remove the broth from the fridge and place half of it into a bowl or shallow plastic container. Warm the other remaining half of the broth on low heat, on the stove.

In a large cast iron pan on medium high heat, warm some vegetable oil. Fill your tortillas with the shredded meat and cheese, then quickly dip into the cold broth (which was set aside in a bowl) and fry in your cast iron pan on each side – until golden brown and until the cheese melts.

Place the now fried Birria tacos on a serving platter. Pour the warm broth into a ramekin or bowl and place next to the tacos for dipping. Garnish with chopped onion, sliced jalapeños, lime wedges, and cilantro. Grab a taco and plunge it into the warm Birria broth and enjoy! 

When you are ready to enjoy your Birria tacos, dip into the warm broth and enjoy!

Fireside Trout

This beautiful trout recipe is so easy to cook and a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography

By Chef Mike Edgar

This Rainbow Trout dish is best enjoyed next to the fire with your favourite people and a setting sun. Fireside Trout Pouches go amazingly well with Fennel Roast Baby Potatoes and Bannock on a Stick. Make these recipes over the campfire on your next trail ride and it’s a trip no one will forget!

Trout Pouches
 
INGREDIENTS:
6 Whole, Deboned Rainbow Trout (Roughly, two pounds each)
1 Package Fresh Cherry Tomatoes
250 Grams Whole Olives
1/2 Pound Sliced Butter
4 Lemons Sliced
Fresh Basil
Fresh Parsley
Salt 
Pepper
6 Large Sheets Tinfoil
18 Slices Sliced Pancetta
2 Bulbs Fresh Fennel
2 Pounds Baby Potatoes
24 Fresh Clams
 
Pancetta Method:
In a cast iron, pan fry the pancetta until crispy. Set aside for garnish.

These roasted fennel baby potatoes are a delicious and hearty side-dish, cooked easily over a grill. Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Fennel Roast Baby Potatoes Method:
Cut potatoes in half and boil in water for five minutes to soften them up. Remove from water and set aside. Slice your fennel as thin as you can and sauté over medium heat in butter or oil in a cast iron pan. When the fennel starts to caramelize, add the potatoes and another tablespoon of butter or oil, cover and continue to cook. Stir often until potatoes are nicely roasted and fennel is sweet and crunchy – approximately 20 minutes. Wrap in a tinfoil pouch and set aside to reheat.
 
Trout Method:
To begin, cut your sheets of tinfoil to make your pouches. Place lemon slices and fresh torn herbs down first. Season the trout inside and out with salt and pepper, stuff with some herbs and some lemon slices. Place two to three slices of butter over the trout. Add four tomatoes, four olives and four clams.

Fold the tinfoil around everything to make a sealed pouch. Ensure there are no leaks and is everything is sealed, (you can always wrap a second tinfoil sheet around if need be.) Place your pouches either next to the fire as close to the heat as possible, or over the fire on a grill. Depending on the heat of your fire, the trout should take no more than 20 minutes to cook. Flip the pouches every five minutes. Make sure you put your pouch of fennel potatoes on the fire as well to heat up again!
 
Open your pouches. If you feel that your fish needs more time, just wrap it back up and put back on the heat. Discard any clams that have not opened. Top your trout with chopped parsley and basil, the crispy pancetta and a drizzle of olive oil. Place your potatoes around the trout and dig in.

Bannock on a stick is a great recipe to enjoy with kids! Photo by Twisted Tree Photography.

Bannock on a Stick
 
INGREDIENTS:
1 Cup Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 Tsp. Salt
2 Tbsp. Powdered Milk
1 Tbsp. Melted Butter
 
Once you have combined all the above ingredients and created your dough, take the dough and role into a long thin shape. Start wrapping the dough around a carefully chosen stick, (an ideal stick is one that would work for cooking hot dogs or marshmallows over a fire.) As you wrap, spiral the dough down down the stick and compress and spread it, so the dough is half-an-inch thick.
 
The inside of the dough needs to cook before the outside over-cooks. Therefore, you need to find the perfect distance from the fire. The best way to do this is to find a spot where you can hold your hand over the fire for 15 to 20 seconds.
 
Once you have found the perfect cooking spot, hold the bannock in place, rotating so all sides cook evenly. This should take 10 minutes. The dough should easily come off the stick when cooked. If it sticks, the dough is not cooked.
 
Serve with warm butter and jam of your choice.

Wojabi
 
Wojabi is an American Indian Berry sauce. You can use any mix of berries you like. For this recipe, w used Saskatoon berries and blueberries.
 
2 1/2 Cups of each Berry
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Honey
 
After washing your fruit, place all ingredients into a pot and mash with a fork or potato masher. Bring the mixture to a boil. Stir and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for an hour stirring occasionally so nothing burns. Let cool and enjoy! 

For some expert trail riding advice, check WHR’s recent article here. Photo by Monique Noble.