Braised Beef Shanks with Caramelized Onions and Shallots

Braised Beef Shank
Last Chinese New Year’s celebration I cooked this dish. I learned it from my cousin La who cooked it when I was in Virginia.

The original recipe from Epicurious was called Braised Lamb Shanks with Caramelized Onions and Shallots but since I didn’t know where to buy lamb shanks I used beef shanks instead.

I’ve never cooked with beef shanks before and usually beef shanks are used to make soup only. But this dish made me a believer of using beef shank.

I didn’t really weigh the beef shanks I bought and I suspect it was more than what the recipe called for and I had to add more liquids. I made this one day before our party.

1. Prepare the sliced onions and shallots, wine, beef broth, rosemary and tomato paste. Coat the beef shanks with salt and pepper.
Braised Beef Shank

2. Coat the beef shanks with flour and sear in a hot pan til golden brown.
Braised Beef Shank

3. Brown the onions and shallots in a large Dutch oven. I finally got to use my huge Le Creuset.
Braised Beef Shank

4. Deglaze the pan where you fried the beef shanks with one cup of red wine. Make sure to stir well to loosen the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Transfer the red wine into the pot with the onions and rosemary. Add the rest of the wine, broth and tomato paste.
Braised Beef Shank

5. Since the liquid didn’t cover the beef I added another 1 1/2 cups of broth.
Braised Beef Shank

6. Instead of simmering on the cooktop I baked it in the oven. It took 3 1/2 hours for the beef to soften to the way I like it. The pot was so heavy that my stainless rack actually dipped in the middle.
Braised Beef Shank

7. I checked the beef from time to time to check on its tenderness. The sauce really thickened up.
Braised Beef Shank

8. After one day in the refrigerator I was able to remove the hardened fat easily.
Braised Beef Shank

It was really good. It might be a cliché but it was melt-in-your mouth tender. I served it with mashed potatoes. I bet rice with go well with it too. The sauce and flavor was intense and complex from the caramelized onions and shallots and the melted bone marrow added a rich taste. Next time I make this I’ll try to cook it in a pressure cooker. I think our beef is much tougher than the beef in the US.
Braised Beef Shank

Braised Beef Shanks  with Caramelized Onions and Shallots 
(based on a recipe from Epicurious)

4 tablespoons oil
1 pound onions, sliced
5 large shallots, sliced (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

6 pcs.  3/4- to 1-pound beef shanks
all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups dry red wine
4 cups canned beef broth
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves

1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and shallots and sauté until brown, about 20 minutes. Mix in 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary. Remove from heat. (Be careful not to burn the onions.)

2. Sprinkle beef shanks with salt and pepper and coat with flour.

3. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add beef shanks to skillet and cook until brown on both sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Using tongs, transfer beef shanks to a plate.

4. Add 1 cup dry red wine to same skillet and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Pour into Dutch oven with onion mixture.

5. Add remaining 1 1/2 cups red wine, canned beef broth, tomato paste and 2 bay leaves to dutch oven. Bring to boil, stirring until tomato paste dissolves. Add more beef broth if necessary.

6. Add beef shanks, turning to coat with liquid. Bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beef is almost tender, turning beef shanks occasionally, about 1 1/2 to 3  hours. Or cook the pot in an oven heated to 350F.

7. If needed boil until liquid is reduced to sauce consistency, stirring and turning beef shanks occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (I didn’t need to do this step. The sauce was thick and the taste was perfect.)

3 thoughts on “Braised Beef Shanks with Caramelized Onions and Shallots

  1. I read way back in 2003, Chef Jay Gamboa stated:  280degrees Farenheit is the ideal temp.  Oven temp must be this LOW to break down the connective tissues of the beef, resulting in a melt-in-your mouth beef.  I just cooked some 1/2″ thick Angus prime ribs (4 pcs, browned first) with cameralized onion and sweet marsala wine.  It’s melt-in-your mouth already after 2 1/2 hours as our beef here, like you stated, is more tender in the first place.  Beef shanks get real tender after 2 1/2 hours also.Same here, I used my red Le creuset.  I have 4 pieces in a set.  Very good cookware.


  2. hi leslie, i’m one of your “silent” reader. I’ve been reading your blog for quiet sometime now. But i just had to comment on this.  THIS IS SUPER DELICIOUS! i tried this and i love it. next project is Rizette’s chicken recipe and fish recipe. I hope you’ll continue to post recipes that we can try.  sarap kumain hehe


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