Beer-Braised Beef Shanks with Parsley Pecan Pesto
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe by:
Serves: 6 to 8
  • 3 cups firmly-packed flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • ½ cup toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Mexican cotija cheese or Parmesan
Beef and Sauce
  • 2 large (4-pound) bone-in beef shanks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 (12-ounce) bottles beer
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 whole onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and ends removed
  • 2 whole heads garlic
  • 4 ribs of celery
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, divided
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (750ml) bottle dry red wine
  • ½ cup Port wine
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons cold water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. In the container of a blender, add the parsley, garlic, pecans, salt, and cheese. Slowly drizzle the oil and turn the blender to the lowest speed. Gradually increase the speed and continue adding oil just until the ingredients are pulverized, but before it becomes a paste. Stop the blender and stir in the cheese. Using a rubber spatula, remove the pesto to a bowl, cover and chill.
Beef and Sauce
  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
  2. Sprinkle the beef shanks with salt and pepper, making sure to coat all sides. In a large cast-iron dutch oven with a heavy lid, add the shanks. Pour in the beer and 2 cups of the chicken stock, and place all of the vegetables in the pot. Add 4 rosemary sprigs and the bay leaves. Place in the oven for 4 hours, and turn the meat over after 2 hours.
  3. Once the meat has cooked the full 4 hours, remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Move the shanks and the liquid to the refrigerator overnight.
  4. The next day, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the meat and liquids from the refrigerator, and skim the fat from the top of the liquids and discard. Remove the vegetables and herbs. Add the red wine and additional 2 cups of chicken stock. Place the meat and liquid back into the oven for 4 hours, turning the meat once at the half-way point. Remove from the oven and check for doneness. The meat should be fork tender but still clinging to the bone. If needed, return to the oven for additional cooking.
  5. Remove the meat from the oven and drain off all the braising liquid into a saucepan. Wrap the meat in foil and keep warm.
  6. Over high heat, bring the liquids to a boil and add the Port wine. Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook the liquids until it reduces by half. Taste the sauce and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  7. Make a slurry by combining the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Stir until dissolved and then add to the sauce. Turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir until the sauce thickens to coat the back of a spoon. Add butter and stir until dissolved into the sauce. Remove from the heat and keep warm until serving.
  8. For serving, bring the meat to the table in the pan and pour over the sauce. Garnish with the remaining rosemary sprigs and spoon over some of the pesto. Serve portions of the meat with roasted carrots and mashed potatoes along with a good bottle of red wine. Make sure to spoon the marrow from the bones onto slices of crusty French bread along with a squeeze of the roasted garlic.
The large shanks will have connective tissue running all the way up the bone. Don’t worry. As it cooks, the tissue will fall away cleanly exposing the bone. The cut of your shanks and the size of your cooking vessel will change the amount of liquid (beer + stock) that you will need. You do not want to cover the meat and boil it. You want to braise the meat with much of the surface exposed, so I urge you not to come more than halfway up the side of meat with the liquid. During cooking, check periodically to see that you still have enough liquid in the pot. I like a dark, full-bodied beer for the braise, but most any good ale will work. A good South Louisiana source for meat cuts of all kinds is Kirk Martin Slaughter House based in Carencro.
Recipe by Acadiana Table at