Beef Shanks with Carrots and Celery (Serves 3)
Boneless beef shanks are beautiful pieces of meat that are cut from the leg between the knee and the hoof. They are naturally tough, being well-used muscles. However, pressure cooking transforms toughness into tenderness in about 20 minutes. My beef shanks were so tender they broke into pieces as I moved them from pot to plate with a slotted spoon. I enjoyed them with carrots and celery and I bet you would too.
Prep and cook time: 35 minutes
2 boneless beef shanks (about 1.5 pounds of meat)
1 pound of baby carrots
1 sweet yellow onion
3-4 stalks of celery
Extra virgin olive oil
Directions: Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pressure cooker over medium heat. Season all sides of beef shanks with salt, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper to taste. Arrange shanks in pot and brown first side 4 minutes. Turn shanks and brown second side 4 minutes. Remove from pot to a plate. Chop onion and celery into bite-sized pieces. Add to pot and cook several minutes until soft, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Return shanks to pressure cooker. Add a generous splash or two of balsamic vinegar and one cup of water. Lock top on pressure cooker. Increase heat to high. After achieving high pressure, reduce heat to the lowest level consistent with maintaining high pressure. Cook under high pressure for 20 minutes. Turn off heat, bring pressure down quickly with the fast-release method, and remove top. Add carrots, salt, garlic powder, and ground cumin to taste. I like a nice dusting of each. Lock top on pressure cooker. Increase heat to high. After achieving high pressure, reduce heat to the lowest level consistent with maintaining high pressure. Cook under high pressure for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, allow pressure to come down naturally, and remove top. Use a slotted spoon or ladle to transfer beef shanks and vegetables to plates. Enjoy!
Notes: Carrots are not tough enough to cook more than 5 or 10 minutes before turning to mush in a pressure cooker, so we cook meat and hardier vegetables first and then add carrots later. Vegetable mush tastes fine and you can cook everything together if you like, but I prefer being able to spear a carrot with my fork and not needing to lift it to my mouth with a spoon.
I love my Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Top Pressure Cooker 7.4-Quart that I ordered from Amazon.com. After reading a bunch of pressure cooker reviews, I decided to spend a little extra to get the one the New York Times described as the Mercedes-Benz of pressure cookers. I’m glad I did. Kuhn Rikon is a Swiss company. Pressure cookers are so popular in Switzerland that the average household has three! I have not purchased a second one yet, but could use one to prepare vegetables separately while longer cooking meat dishes are in their final minutes.
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