Tomatoes in the News

Braised Beef Shanks Con Maní


(Beef Shanks With Coconut Milk, Avocado, Currants, And Peanuts)

  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 4 beef shanks (about 1 pound each), about 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 2 1/2 ounces smoky bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter1 large red onion, chopped medium-fine
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 cup Spanish sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds (see recipe below)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 6 cups Beef Stock (see recipe below)
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 large ripe tomato, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup raw peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped (see recipe below)
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

In a shallow bowl, mix the flour, salt, and pepper. Dredge each beef shank in the flour, shaking off the excess. Set aside.

In a large roasting pan, cook the bacon in the canola oil over medium-high heat until beginning to crisp. Slide the bacon over to one side of the pan, and sear the beef shanks, turning until browned. Transfer the shanks to a platter and reserve.

Add the butter to the pan. When it begins to foam, add the onion, carrots, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables caramelize, 10 to 15 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, stirring until almost all the liquid has evaporated. Add the orange zest, ginger, tomato paste, cumin, and crushed red pepper. Stir in the stock and coconut milk, return the shanks to the pan, and bring to a simmer, skimming off any foam, as necessary.

Cover the pan, transfer to the oven, and braise the shanks for 2 to 3 hours, until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone.

Using a large spoon or ladle, skim off any fat that has risen to the surface of the cooking liquid. Transfer the shanks to a casserole and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Strain the braising liquid into a saucepan and reduce it over medium-high heat to about 3 cups; it should thickly coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Season the tomato wedges with salt and pepper, arrange them atop the shanks, and pour the reduced braising liquid over them. Sprinkle about two-thirds of the peanuts over the top and put the pan in the oven, uncovered, until the tomatoes wilt, about 20 minutes.

Serve the shanks on warm plates, spooning the sauce over them. Garnish with the avocado, currants, and the rest of the peanuts, and accompany with rice.

Serves 4

Toasted and Ground Cumin Seeds

Gently warm the seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat. Once they become aromatic, they are toasted. When they have cooled a bit, grind them in a spice mill (or a clean coffee grinder) or with a mortar and pestle.

To make toasted peanuts, follow the directions above and chop the toasted nuts instead of grinding

Beef Stock

  • 4 1/2 pounds beef neckbones
  • 4 1/2 pounds veal bones
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 large stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 heads garlic, cut horizontally in half
  • 6 to 8 quarts water, or enough to cover
  • 3 bay leaves, broken in half
  • 20 sprigs thyme
  • 20 sprigs Italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, toasted (see recipe below)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Put the bones into two large roasting pans and splash with the peanut oil; it is important not to crowd the meat, or it will not brown properly. Place the pans side by side in the oven for 30 to 45 minutes. (If your oven isn't large enough for both pans to fit on one rack, you'll need to rotate the pans between the upper and lower racks so that the meat on the bones cooks evenly.) Once the meat is nicely dark, remove the pans from the oven and give the bones a stir. Return them to the oven and roast 10 minutes more.

Add the chopped onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, dividing them evenly between the two pans, and stir to coat with the peanut oil and beef juices. Roast for 40 to 60 minutes: be sure to check the pans frequently, as you don't want the vegetables to get any more than slightly blackened. Transfer the contents of both pans to a large stockpot, or divide evenly between two large pots.

Pour a cup or two of water into each roasting pan. Place the pans on the stovetop over medium-high heat and, using a wooden spoon, scrape loose the dark bits of meat and bone stuck to the bottoms. Spoon this good stuff over the bones and vegetables stockpot(s).

Cover with the remaining water and bring to a slow simmer, skimming the fat and impurities that rise to the surface. (Don't stir, or the stock will be cloudy.) Once the broth remains clear, add the herbs and peppercorns. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 hours. Let cool slightly.

Strain the stock through a colander, then strain through a fine-mesh strainer or a cheesecloth-lined colander into another container. Chill the stock in an ice-water bath. (This not only kills harmful bacteria, it prevents you from having to put steaming-hot stock into your refrigerator – and inadvertently heating it and its contents.) Then refrigerate until chilled, or, preferably, overnight.

Skim any fat from the top of the stock, and transfer to airtight containers. Refrigerated, the stock will keep for 2 to 3 days; frozen, it will keep for up to 6 months.

Toasted Black Peppercorns

Gently warm the peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat. Once they become aromatic, they are toasted.