Okay maybe this isn't the most traditional summer meal but then again we haven't been experiencing the hottest summer either... In the freezer I had some beef shanks that were part of the Holy Spirit offering we had received from our local church a couple of weeks ago. It's quite the tradition for Azorean portuguese families. I found this great recipe for Osso Buco from Giada, made a few changes to it by using the beef shanks instead of the veal shanks indicated in the recipe and I was extremely impressed with how it turned out... I think you'll like it too!
Helena’s Take on Osso Buco
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 dry bay leaf
2 whole beef shanks (about 1-2 pound per shank)
1 lb of stewing beef, cubed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup butter
1 onion soup mix
4 carrots, sliced
3-4 stalk celery, sliced
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon hot pepper paste
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup water
2 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 raw garlic clove, thinly grated
For the beef shanks, pat dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Season each shank with salt and freshly ground pepper.
In a large Dutch oven pot, heat butter until melted. Add bee shanks and stewing beef to the hot pan and brown all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove browned shanks and reserve.
In the same pot, add the onion soup mix, carrots and celery. The salt in the soup mix will help draw out the moisture from the vegetables. Saute until soft. Add the tomato paste and mix well. Return browned shanks and stewing beef to the pan and add the white wine, water, hot pepper paste and garlic, reduce liquid by half, about 5 minutes. Add rosemary, thyme, bay leaf and 2 cups of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Lay beef shanks and stewing beef at the bottom of the crockpot, pouring out all liquids, spices and juices from your pot. Set crockpot to high (4 hours) to ensure meat is tender and falls off the fork.
Once done, carefully remove the cooked shanks from the pot and place in decorative serving platter. Remove bay leaf, rosemary twig and oregano twig before serving. Pour all the juices and sauce from the pot over the shanks.
Garnish with traditional gremolada of: chopped parsley, lemon zest and grated raw garlic and serve with a saffron rissotto.