Braised Beef Shank with Polenta

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Have you ever had an amazing beef shank dish at a restaurant? I have. That slow cooked, tender beef was the food of my dreams.  The deep, rich flavor was so complex and wonderful.  It was such a memorable dish. My quest to make something similar at home began soon after.

I started researching recipes using beef shanks and found that the key to a flavorful beef shank dish is braising.  This cooking method is great for cuts of meat that can be a bit tough.  When utilizing as much of the animal as possible, there are many cuts of beef that, if cooked on high heat for a short amount of time, can be very unpleasant to consume. Braising turns these cuts into tender, delicious meals and is also a terrific method for adding complex flavor. The aromatics and herbs used in braising are the vital component to the flavor profile of the finished dish.  Equally important is the stock or cooking liquid. The wine adds acid and gives the meat a richness. Use a high-quality stock for the best result. Quality, pasture raised meats should be cooked with other quality ingredients, in my opinion. This will definitely come through in the experience of the final dish.

This recipe serves a crowd, but don’t worry it also freezes well.  I prefer the polenta as my base for this rich braised beef shank; however, a pasta–tagliatelle is the most common option–is also great.  Buon appetito!


  • 1- 4 to 5 lbs. Firsthand Foods beef shank, boneless
  • 4 Tbs. Olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots – peeled and cut into 1.5” pieces
  • 2 large celery stalks – cut into 2” pieces
  • 1 small onion – peeled and quartered
  • 5 garlic cloves – peeled
  • 2 – 3” sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 cups beef or mushroom stock
  • 1 – 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • Salt & pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over high heat. Generously salt and pepper all sides of the beef shank.
  3. Sear the beef shank on all sides. Remove it from the pan and add the carrot, onion, celery, and garlic to the pan. Sauté over medium high heat for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the wine and stir. Allow the wine to simmer for 2 minutes. Place the beef shank on top of the vegetables.  Add the beef or mushroom stock.  Seal tightly with a lid or aluminum foil. Braise in the oven for 3.5 hrs.
  5. Remove the cooked beef shank and transfer to a plate to cool. Once cooled, shred the meat into a bowl. Set aside.
  6. Remove the rosemary sprigs from the cooking liquid. Pour the cooking liquid and the vegetables into a blender and process until smooth.
  7. Pour the mixture into a medium sized stockpot. Add the can of crushed tomatoes and the shredded beef shank.  Stir to combine.
  8. Simmer over medium heat for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally. While sauce is simmering, prepare polenta according to package directions.
  9. Serve the beef shank and sauce over the polenta and top with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Serves 8 – 10

*Freezes well

*Option: cut beef shank in half and reduce recipe ingredients by half.