Spiced Braised Beef Shanks

These braised beef shanks are meltingly tender with a rich, flavorful sauce. Left to cook low and slow, time does all the work of tenderising the meat and thickening the sauce.


Serves 4-6

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For the spice blend

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho or chipotle chili powder

For the braised beef

  • 6 beef shanks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups dry red Zinfandel or syrah wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Chicken or beef stock as needed
  • 18 – 24 small carrots, with tops, scrubbed and trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Zest of one orange


Preheat oven to 150°C. Prepare the spice rub by toasting whole seeds in a pan until fragrant. Using a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle, grind the toasted seeds with the chili powder.

Season beef shanks liberally with salt and pepper, then dust with the spice rub on both sides.

Heat a casserole over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil once hot. Brown the meat until dark brown on both sides, about 4 – 6 minutes per side. Remove to a plate.

Lower the heat to medium. Sweat the onion, celery and garlic in the pan until the onion is translucent. Add tomato paste and cook until slightly darkened. Pour in the wine and scrape all browned fond from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Simmer until reduced by 1/4, about 10 minutes.

Return the beef shanks to the pan, along with the bay leaves. Pour in enough stock to come about 2/3 of the way up the meat; the meat should not be covered by the liquid. Cover with the lid and place in the oven. Let cook for 2 1/2 hours until very tender.

Add the carrots and replace the lid. Return to the oven and let cook an additional 20 – 30 minutes.

Remove the beef and the carrots to a warm plate and cover loosely with foil. Remove the bay leaves and any other solids with a slotted spoon, and discard. Skim the fat from the surface. At this point, the sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it doesn’t, reduce it a bit more. Turn off the heat and swirl in the butter.

Combine the parsley and orange zest. Serve the shanks with carrots and sauce, and garnish with the zest mixture.