A good slow braise is wonderfully warming in winter, and veal shanks make a
nice change from lamb. It's dead simple and has a rich, slightly sweet sauce.
||4 veal shanks, trimmed.
||2 onions, finely chopped
||1 carrot, diced
||4-5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped in half
||2 or 3 celery sticks, diced
||300ml good red wine. Something like a fruit-driven shiraz
||Bouquet Garni of fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley and
lemon rind. (Don't use those dried pre-assembled packets of sawdust - they
don't have the flavour!)
||Olive oil on hand
||3-4 tbsp brown sugar.
||2 tbsp plain flour
||1 cup good beef stock. If you're using the packet liquid
stock, reduce 2 cups down to 1 beforehand.
Dust the shanks with flour, lightly season with salt and pepper and in a large
pot, fry in olive oil under browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set
aside. Add the onion, carrot, garlic and celery and gently sauté for about 5-6
minutes, adding more olive oil as necessary. Add the red wine, bouquet garni
and stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the sugar and season generously
with salt and pepper. Return the shanks to the pot, ensuring that they're coated
on all sides. Reduce heat and slow cook for 2-3 hours, or until meat is starting
to separate from the bone. (Note, you don't actually want it to fall off
the bone yet, as otherwise it'll just turn out as a pile of sludge!). At
this stage, I normally turn off the heat and let it cool and rest overnight.
This allows the flavours to magically enhance themselves - I don't know why
or how, but it works. If you're in a hurry, you can skip the resting and just
Carefully remove the meat from the pot, being careful to keep it in one piece.
Set aside. Strain the sauce and reserve the vegetables. Discard the bouquet
garni. Reduce the liquid to about 1/3 of its original volume. Taste and adjust
seasonings of sugar, salt and pepper. If it lacks bite a touch of cider or malt
vinegar can be useful, but be careful - it's easy to overdo! Return the meat
and vegetables to the pot and coat well with the sauce. Serve with creamy mash
potatoes and a green salad.