Rich and full of flavor, grilled beef shanks is an inexpensive
dish that's sure to please. This cut is actually quite tough, but the
preparation method outlined here turns the tough shanks into luscious,
melt in your mouth beef.
Beef shanks contain a lot of connective tissues and tough membranes, and require long cooking with moist heat. This recipe provides that moist cooking environment during the second step of the process, when the old Dutch oven takes over.
Grilling the shanks sears them, and the carmelization and browning provides a huge amount of flavor to the finished dish. Since it's lightly seasoned, the flavor of beef reigns supreme!
To make this from start to finish on the grill, you'll need a heavy, covered pot of some kind. Cast iron Dutch ovens are perfect, and if you have a porcelain covered braising pan, that would also work. The magic of heavy cookware is that the entire pot gets hot, from the bottom up to the top of the lid. And this provides even cooking to the meat, all the way around.
Beef shanks have a tough membrane covering the outer surface. You can take the time to cut it away, but if you do you'll lose some flavor. Just cut through the membrane in three or four places around the circumference of the shanks. The membrane shrinks when heated, so if it's not cut, the shank will cup.
Rub the beef shanks will oil on all sides and season with the salt and pepper. Grill over high direct heat on your grill until browned, about 5 minutes per side.
Place the seared beef shanks into your Dutch oven. Drop in the bay leaves, quartered onions and whole garlic cloves. Since the cloves are left whole, there won't be a huge amount of garlic flavor in the finished beef. Feel free to use more garlic cloves if you want. Add the wine, then enough water so the meat is just halfway covered.
Put the lid on the Dutch oven and set it on your grill. Place it away from the lit gas burner or fiery briquettes. Indirect heat is what you want here. Cover or close your grill, and let the braising begin!
Maintain your grill's temperature at a medium level, about 300 degrees Fahrenheit if there's a temp gauge to watch. If not, don't worry about it. Just try to keep the braising beef shanks at a very low simmer. Check the pot every half hour or so, and add more water as necessary.
When braising meat, it should not be totally covered. It's best if the liquid only covers the lower half of the meat. The reason is that if covered completely with liquid, heat radiating downward from the lid can't work it's magic on the meat.
When finished braising, your grilled beef shanks will be fall
apart tender, moist and full of incredible flavor. Before serving, pick
through the meat and remove the bones and any remaining membrane and
fat. And save all that wonderful juice left in the pan. After
separating the grease, thicken the juices with a tablespoon of
cornstarch dissolved in a half-cup of water. Mix it in and bring to a
simmer to thicken, and you'll have some fantastic gravy.
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