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Lean shanks? Yes, with this oven-braising technique.

Lean shanks? Yes, with this oven-braising technique In the search for lean cuts of meat, some extremely flavorful choices get overlooked because their rich taste is assumed to come from fat. Shanks are a perfect example of meats that fit this neglected slot. When shanks of beef, veal, or lamb are oven-braised to tenderness, then skimmed of fat, calories coming from fat are below 30 percent.

Because shanks are muscular and designed to work hard, they are full of connective tissue composed of the protein collagen. Cooked in moist heat, this connective tissue softens and dissolves to give meat a luxurious, melting taste.

Here we oven-braise beef, veal, and lamb shanks, browning them first in the dry heat of the oven to bring out their intense natural flavors. Then seasonings and liquid go into the pan, and the meat is tightly covered. Even though the shanks cook at 400[degrees], they simmer gently, taking a bit of time to cook but needing no attention. And if you want to cook them ahead, they reheat quickly for an easy-to-prepare supper on the following day.

A bonus with these recipes is the richly browned, fat-free juices that make a lean gravy. Serve the meat with baked potatoes, which can cook along with the meat. Or serve with an interesting grain, such as hot cooked wheat berries, millet, or quinoa, or just plain rice.

Braised Beef Shanks

6 beef shanks, each about 1-3/4 inches thick (about 6 lb. total) 4 cups regular-strength beef broth 1 lemon, unpeeled, chopped (discard seeds) 1 teaspoon dry marjoram leaves 1 dry bay leaf 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns 1/4 teaspoon coriander seed 1 tablespoon cornstarch 2 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar Salt

Lay shanks in a single layer in a close-fitting pan about 9 by 13 inches. Bake, uncovered, in a 400[degrees] oven until browned, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and turn shanks over. Add broth, lemon, marjoram, bay leaf, peppercorns, and coriander. Cover pan tightly with foil. Return to oven and bake until meat is tender enough to pull apart easily, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

With a slotted spoon, lift shanks gently from pan and set in a single layer on a platter; keep warm.

Pour broth through a fine strainer into a 1-quart measure; press any liquid from residue into cup; discard residue.

If made ahead, cover and chill broth and meat up until next day. If shanks are chilled, reheat in foil-covered pan in a 400[degrees] oven until warm, 15 to 20 minutes. Put on platter; keep warm.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water; set aside.

With a spoon, skim fat from broth and discard (if chilled, lift off hard fat). In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, bring broth and vinegar to boiling on high heat; boil, uncovered, until reduced to 1-1/2 to 2 cups, 8 to 12 minutes. Stir in cornstarch mixture and stir until boiling.

Pour into a small pitcher; add to meat to taste, along with salt. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 324 cal.; 51 g protein; 10 g fat; 3.8 g carbo.; 100 mg sodium; 118 mg chol.

Braised Veal Shanks

Follow directions for braised beef shanks (preceding), but instead of beef use 6 veal shanks, each about 6 inches long (about 6 lb. total). Bake until the meat is very tender and pulls easily from the bones, about 1-1/2 hours.

Estimated per serving based on veal shoulder (USDA data not available for shanks; the shoulder is a slightly fattier cut); 393 cal.; 67 g protein; 10 g fat; 3.8 g carbo.; 170 mg sodium; 287 mg chol.

Braised Lamb Shanks

Follow directions for braised beef shanks (preceding), but instead of beef use 6 lamb shanks (about 5-1/2 lb. total). Bake until meat is very tender and pulls easily from the bones, about 2 hours.

Per serving: 280 cal.; 44 g protein; 8.8 g fat; 3.8 g carbo.; 106 mg sodium; 145 mg chol.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Feb 1, 1990
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