Tag Archives: braise

Venison Shanks Ala Carbonadesque

This is less a recipe and more an insight into how I cook.

I decided last weekend to have a few friends over to celebrate the successful birth of my daughter (my main contribution to that was getting a wife with good child bearing hips and questionable taste in husbands).  I also decided to use up some of  those shanks I had in my freezer.

Now I’m pretty sure there’s really only way to cook shanks, braising. So, all I had to do was come up with a braising liquid. I decided the occasion called for something a bit more special than the usual pot roast preparation (as good as that is). I also happened to notice that a near by liquor store had <i>Rodenbach, </i> a Flemish Brown, on sale. Great, so I went to pick one up. They were out.

Well by this point I had my heart set on shanks braised in  some Oud Bruin. So I did the only reasonable thing, I got out a bottle of Left Hand’s Milk Stout and my bottle of balsamic vinegar  and started mixing. I chose milk stout because it was what I had in my fridge.  I would’ve used a Scottish Ale (medium strength, not a wee heavy or export strength) or even an Marzen if I had them. I was mainly looking to avoid too much hop presence (hops get too much pretty quick when you reduce the liquid for a sauce), and get some fruit flavors from the esters (I helped those flavors out a little later). I found that a 3:1 Ratio beer:vinegar was good enough for jazz.

So, after preheating the oven to 250 (since part of the point of braising is that the cooking liquid never gets hotter than whatever the boiling temperature is at your particular elevation {otherwise it stops being the cooking liquid and starts being the cooking steam} I don’t see the point in keeping the rest of the oven much hotter than that), I: seasoned the shanks with salt and pepper and put them (I had six) in a roasting pan just big enough to hold them all in a single layer; add a couple of diced onions; poured in 1 12 oz. bottle of milk stout and 1/2 C of balsamic vinegar, and enough home-made game stock to come half way up the meat; covered the whole thing with a double layer of tin-foil; and stuck it in the oven for the foreseeable future.

I checked the liquid a couple of times, and flipped the shanks over once or twice, and several (I think it was around 5 or 6) hours later pulled the whole thing out. I pulled the shanks out, covered them with foil, and set them aside. I then reduced the liquid to half of the original volume, and in a stroke of inspiration added about 1/4 c of our home-made choke cherry syrup. I also added a goodly quantity (I forgot to measure, sorry) of herbs de provence. The sauce was rich enough it didn’t need any extra fat, and I had plans for the left overs, that didn’t include gravy, so I didn’t thicken it with starch, it was just a classic reduction sauce.

I served the whole shebang with fresh green-beans and a basic brown-rice pilaf. Unfortunately the guy who was supposed to bring the  beer (New Glarus’s <i> Wisconsin Red, </i>a traditional Kriek that’s as hard to get outside of Wisconsin as it is delicious) had a sick kid, and didn’t want me to end up with a sick baby, so we a great Argentinian table wine instead.

Note: For Carbonade (the traditional Belgian Stew this was roughly based on) you can look here. I guess you could probably use my improvised Oud Bruin for that recipe as well, but if you do, I’ll be disappointed. If you’re o.k. with that (I usually am) knock yourself out.

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