Can you see me hovering over my counter & stove, chopping, dicing, stirring and concocting???
Brock is definitely what I term a "good eater" he will try anything I (or mom) makes at least once without batting an eye. And trust me, he has tried more new "interesting" items in the time he has been with me that I can count. But if he doesn't like it, he isn't afraid to say so and I just don't make it again, no biggie. If he likes it, it goes in the cookbook with a star next to it or posted here on the old blog just in case I need reminding.
And then here comes hunting season. As the nights get dark earlier and the temperatures drop, my darling man leaves me at night to go hunt the elusive wild pig in the hills of the Ventura foothills. Or takes off on a day trip with his buddies to find quail, dove or duck. Or leaves for multiple days to hunt deer or elk. And then I am what my mom and I term "hunting widows"-ladies left alone at home without their man for a time. Maybe a gruesome term in some respects, but what it really is for us is a time for us girls to relax, unwind, watch a girly movie (or several episodes of Sex & the City), open a good bottle of wine and perhaps make a meal that we love that our spouses don't.
Tonight, after leaving the warm confines of the Ojai Valley, I arrived in a Ventura that was enveloped by fog. A night that just begged for slow cooked, comfort food. A quick stop at the market found beef shanks & beef bones just waiting for me to make them in to something delicious!
As much as I appreciate (and use on occasion) items such as bouillon, pre-made stock or broth, I do find that any time you have even a half an hour to make your own stock or broth, your meal turns out 200% better tasting than if you used a product that has MSG, corn syrup, yellow #5 or mechanically separated chicken (my favorite) or "chicken flavor" in it.
How exactly does one get "chicken flavor" aside from making the stock I would like to know....I wish you could see my visualizations....
I know these things are there for our convenience, but I do try to make my own stock when I have the means and the time, it makes a huge difference.
So quick quick quick...I trim the fat from the package of 2 beef "soup" bones, wash them under cold water, toss them in a sauce pan with 1 peeled chopped carrot, 1 celery stalk and a chopped white onion. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Skim the funk from the surface as it cooks. Strain, remove any fat that is left and wait for the next step. Or freeze in ice cube trays and wait for the next time you need yummy meat flavor. For even MORE meaty flavor (if you have the time), roast the bones at 400" for a half hour-45 minutes until they are crispy and brown and then make the stock.
And now for my delicious beef shank...
When shopping for it, get ones that are well marbled, somewhat smaller and about 1" thick. This recipe makes enough for 2, so now I have lunch for this week, yay!
(2) 4"-5" round beef shanks, bone in (they are cheap too!!!)2 T flour
1 small fennel (anise) bulb-sliced thin
1 Portobello Mushroom-sliced 1" x 1/4"
1 dozen (ish) pearl onions, ends removed, skinned*
2 garlic cloves, minced
*Easy skinning technique as these guys are a pain in the you know what-sies to skin raw....boil some water (or your stock!) and thrown them in for a few seconds, the skins just slip right off!
Season the shanks with salt & pepper, dredge in flour
Heat 1 T olive oil + 1 T butter and brown the shanks in a medium sized sauce pan, set the meat aside. Add another 1 T olive oil and add veggies, stir until slightly softened.
Add1 cup red wine
2 cups beef stock (or bouillon if you must) :)
1 T salt
Add meat back in and cover, turn on low/simmer and leave for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes, uncovered, until meat is pretty tender. Add liquid if needed, but you shouldn't if I have steered you right. :)
Skim off 1/2 cup of liquid and add 2 ice cubes to cool it. Add 2 T flour and whisk until blended. Add this back in to the pot and stir until thickened, season to taste.
Now I should clarify that this totally IS something my darling will eat...but I served it with polenta and broccoli, which he doesn't care for. So next time I make this, I will make sure to serve it with pasta or gnocchi and a big old salad, now that I know this recipe kicks ass.
On another note, in regard to meal cost....I know that many of use are not as comfy as we used to be "considering the economy" (blech!). This is a meal that I think cost me all of $10 and served 2 people. The beef shanks were $4, the bones $.98, the broccolini $3 and everything else I actually had in my house as what I consider staples. Cuts of meat like this are more affordable and often way more flavorful than pricey cuts and you can do a whole heck of a lot with the veggies that are hanging out in your crisper drawer. Sub the polenta for the bag of pasta in your pantry and you are good to go.
Any questions, feel free to email me. :)