Plain flour, salt and pepper for dredging 4-6 meaty beef (or veal, if you must) shanks Olive oil as needed 1/2 cup butter, unsalted 3 large onions, diced 3 large carrots, diced 5 stalks celery, yes, again, diced 2-1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes – HEY! SURPRISE! DICED!! 3-4 cups beef stock 1 cup decent wine, dryer is better than fruitier (used 2002 deLorimier Sauvignon Blanc last night)
Dredge the shanks in the flour, seasoned to taste with salt and pepper. Heat up that oil in your largest skillet and brown those suckers on all sides, which takes about 15 minutes or so per load – my biggest frying pan is still not big enough to comfortably fry even the 3 shanks I had (one of which was about the size of your average dinner plate, I swear!!). Once they’re browned, set them aside.
Meanwhile, dice stuff until your arms are ready to drop off while simultaneously attempting not to add any new additions to your finger-scar collection and making sure the shanks don’t go from ‘brown’ to ‘burnt’. It’s particularly helpful if you can have a bunch of small children running around underfoot screaming “MOMMY!!!!!” – it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the whole experience.
Melt the butter over medium heat. Dump all the veggies EXCEPT the tomatoes in and cook them, stirring frequently while sampling the wine to assure quality, until they’re tender but not smooshy-cooked, another 15 minutes.
Put the shanks on top. Scatter the tomatoes artfully around and on top of them. Pour in the wine and the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, until that meat is positively falling off the bone.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.
We had this with a side of salad and some Parmesan rice – just make plain old boring white rice, then add butter and Parmesan cheese and good cracked pepper. Unless you have Mutant Alien Children™, in which case just put the pepper on the table for yourself and your SO. Because the Mutant Alien Children™ will want the pepper if it’s on the table, but will loathe it if it is simply put into the dish.