BEEF! For the week...
Beef is my favorite protein source.
For years, beef has been tossed back and forth from wonderful, nutritious staple of the national dinner table to cancer causing, heart clogging, dietary demon. Even now, there’s still disagreement about it, and probably will be for years to come.
Lately, the debate has turned toward the feeding sources of cattle: grain fed vs. grass fed. Even the Mayo Clinic had something to say about that piece of the debate. Here’s a nice little “nerd safari” for you to head off on in learning about the fat profile of grass fed vs. grain fed beef. Virginia Tech is into the research about it as well, and has found favorable changes in the nutritional profile of pastured beef.
Whether you choose conventional or grass fed beef is up to you, but growing up on lots of venison, I certainly don’t have any issues with the flavor of pasture raised meats. So, I choose to go the route of local, pasture raised meats as often as I can. My favorite sources of beef here in Central Virginia are Polyface Farms and Forrest Green Farm. I’m sure there are many more, but both of these farms have been great to us!
Nutritional rant aside, we love doing big beef roasts throughout most of the winter and spring. Braising is a great way to cook just about any roast: chuck, arm, shoulder, etc. Here’s our personal favorite preparation that leaves us with enough meat for several lunches and dinners:
Braised beef shank
We’re all about affordable, nutritious, and tasty food. Beef Shank is one of our favorites that combines each of those qualities.
The trouble with a cut like shank is the connective tissue. Without proper preparation, shank can end up to be something similar in texture to a well used baseball glove. The key to producing one that you can pull apart with a fork is braising.
Here’s the finished product:
That’s enough wonderful beef for 3 dinners for the three of us, plus a lunch or two for me.
Here’s how to make it
Season and brown the meat.
Dry off the meat and season well with salt, pepper and granulated garlic (which can be added later too).
In a large Dutch oven, stovetop safe casserole dish or a crock pot that gets hot enough to brown meat, add a few tablespoons of butter and evenly brown the shank on as many “sides” as possible.
After browning, set meat aside and add a few tablespoons of flour. “Toast” the flour in the cooking fat for a minute or two, then deglaze the pan with wine and/or broth. The toasted flour and brown bits from the pan flavor and thicken the cooking liquid, which can be reduced later for a gravy, if desired. I typically add a few cloves of crushed garlic at this point as well.
After scraping all of the “stuck” stuff off of the bottom of the pan, put the meat back in and add remaining cooking liquid(s) to bring the level at least halfway up the roast. I also add some soy sauce or worcestershire sauce and some herbs at this point (in this case, fresh rosemary and sage):
Then, into a 350° oven for 4-5 hours! This is the greatest part… provided this is planned properly, there’s a great opportunity to get something else done while dinner is making itself. In my case, that means either working in the yard, garden or on the house. In rare cases, it could mean reading a book or taking a snooze!
Here’s the final product again:
At this point, the meat can be removed from the pan and pulled apart with a fork. As mentioned earlier, the sauce can be reduced to a gravy, or just poured right over the pulled meat.
We’ll store a pound or so of it in different containers in the fridge. From there, they can be pulled out and warmed up to combine with veggies and a salad for a quick family dinner on a weeknight.
So there you have it, an easy way to prep a serious portion of protein for the week!
They’ve given me the title Personal Training Director, but I really just love to help acac members and give my team the tools they need to do the same. I graduated with a B.S. in Human Physiology and Biology from the University of Oregon and M.A. from Willamette University. I have over 15 years experience personal training and have also taught anatomy, physiology and biology. I love spending time outdoors and growing, cooking and eating great food. Learn more about me and read more of my blogs on our website.