Beef Shank Ragù
Updated: Jun 24, 2020
1lb pasta (Ideally rigatoni or pappardelle. Both are great pastas for hearty meat sauces)
3lb bone-in beef shank (this is traditionally used for Osso Bucco and has a lot of rich, delicious marrow in the middle. This will render out while it cooks and make the sauce insanely rich)
1 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand or with an immersion blender (you can use any good can, but I prefer San Marzano or other Italian tomatoes. Just make sure you are using whole peeled tomatoes, not fire roasted, crushed, diced, etc)
2 cups chicken stock (homemade is best but not necessary)
1 yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, sliced thin
4 thyme sprigs
1 tsp crushed red pepper
½ cup olive oil
1 ½ tbsp canola or vegetable oil
Kosher salt, to taste
Maldon salt, to finish
Pecorino Romano, freshly grated
Remove the beef shank from the fridge an hour before you start cooking to bring it up to room temperature. When you are ready to cook, heavily salt all sides of the shank and turn the oven to 325F. This is a thick cut of meat that can take a ton of seasoning. Place a dutch oven or heavy bottom saucepan over high heat, pour in the canola oil, and get the pan very very hot, almost at the oil’s smoke point. Place the beef shank in the pan and cook until there is a hard sear (1–2 minutes depending on your stove). Repeat this process on all sides of the shank. Once seared, remove the shank from the pan and turn the heat down to medium.
Pour the olive oil into the pot and wait for it to shimmer. Then, toss in the thyme sprigs, and cook until the thyme gives up most of its flavor (about 3 minutes). Remove the thyme, add crushed red pepper, onions, and garlic, Cook until the onions are translucent.
Pour in the chicken stock and tomatoes, making sure to scrape up all of the tasty bits left in the pan from the braised beef shank. Stir to combine everything and bring to a simmer. Once gently bubbling, add in the shank, cover, and put in the oven.
Braise the shank for a minimum of three hours, flipping it over after an hour and a half. When you flip the shank, taste a little of the sauce for seasoning and salt to your liking, adding a little at a time. When it comes to a braise like this, the longer the better. If you cook this for four or five hours, the meat will continue to get more tender and the sauce will get thicker and richer (also the house will smell ridiculously good).
When you are almost ready to eat, put a pot of water on the stove and toss in an aggressive amount of salt (pasta water should have the same salinity as seawater). Cook the pasta until two minutes before the suggested time, start tasting until it is al dente (a little chewy), reserve a cup of pasta water, and strain. Toss the pasta in a little olive oil so it doesn’t stick together.
Remove the pot from the oven and place the beef shank on a cutting board. Carefully take out the bone from the middle of the shank and roughly chop the meat into bite sized chunks. If it is on the tenderer side, you can use two forks and pull the meat apart. Then, add the meat and any juices from the cutting board back into the pot and thoroughly mix everything together. Place the pot on medium heat, add in the pasta and a splash of pasta water, and stir to make sure every piece is coated in the sauce. If you would like a saucier pasta, use a little less than the full pound. After everything is nicely mixed together, remove from the heat.
Crack some fresh black pepper, sprinkle on a little Maldon salt, grate Pecorino over the top, and enjoy!