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 Side Dishes

If you saw our recent Western Foodie post about the Holiday Beef Wellington, these are the perfect side dishes to go with. And if the Beef Wellingon doesn’t steal the show, these side dishes definitely will!

By MIKE EDGAR, Photos by TWISTED TREE PHOTOGRAPHY

ROASTED GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bulb Garlic,
  • Intact Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 6 Large Russett Potatoes, Peeled and Cut into 1-inch Chunks
  • 4 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter, at Room Temperature
  • 1 Tsp. Salt, Plus More as Needed
  • 1 Cup Milk, Plus More as Needed
  • Minced Chives, for Garnish (Optional)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Use a sharp knife to slice off the top end so that the bulb remains intact and all of the cloves are exposed. Place on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Fold the foil around the bulb so that it is completely covered and bake until the cloves are tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at least 10 minutes before handling. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the bulb so that the softened cloves fall out. Discard the peels. Use the tines of a fork to mash the roasted garlic into a paste. Set aside.

Place the chopped potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Continue to cook uncovered until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15-18 minutes. Drain well.

Return the potatoes to the warm pot. Add in the butter, salt, milk, and the roasted garlic paste. With an electric mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, adding more milk as needed. Avoid over-beating. *Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Garnish with minced chives. Serve warm.

ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH HOLLANDAISE
Ingredients:

1 Bunch Asparagus Stalks
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Large Pinch Sea Salt
Black Pepper to Taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 400. Meanwhile on a baking sheet, toss asparagus with the olive oil. Arrange stalks evenly on the pan, then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through for even, delicious browning.

HOLLANDAISE FOR TWO
Ingredients:

2 Egg Yolks
1.5 Tsp. Lemon Juice
1/4 Cup Butter Melted
Pinch Sea Salt
Pinch Black Cracked Pepper

Method:

There are lots of methods to use when making Hollandaise Sauce. While I want to be a purist and use a double-boiler, I must admit – I have an immersion blender and it is pretty fool proof. These recipes easily double, triple, quadruple, etc. Make Hollandaise for a crowd, by golly! Whichever method you use, here are your options:

Immersion Blender: Place egg yolks and lemon juice in a tall-sided container that isn’t too wide (think a quart-sized soup container). With the immersion blender, combine the egg yolk and lemon juice briefly. Continue to run the immersion blender and dribble in the melted butter. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

Blender: Place egg yolks and lemon juice in the blender. Pulse briefly to combine. Turn the blender on a low setting, take either the whole lid or just that little plastic part in the top off and slow drizzle in the melted butter. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. You’re done!

Double-boiler: Fill a medium pot with a few inches of water. Set on medium-high heat. Place a bowl over the top of the pot, making sure its large enough that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water underneath. Place egg yolks and lemon juice in the bowl. Begin whisking until combined. Slowly dribble melted butter in, whisking continuously. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. Finito.

Stove-top: NOTE: Don’t pre-melt your butter! Simply cut the butter into little pads. Set a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Moving quickly, whisk the eggs and lemon juice together in the pan. Slowly add a pad or two of butter at a time, whisking continuously and removing the pan from the heat if you feel a curdle coming on. Add a little sea salt and black pepper. Again, you’re all finished!

If however, you’re not done, and your hollandaise broke and isn’t a gloriously, smooth sauce – beat an additional egg yolk in a separate bowl and slowly whisk into the broken sauce, bit by bit. That should do the trick.

This spin on Christmas dinner is pleasing to the eye and palate – and gloriously festive.