Monday, October 9, 2017

Slow Cooker Beef Shank Pasta Sauce #Crocktober

Our friend Sue of Palatable Pastime came up with this fun little event.  Pulling out the crockpot or slow cooker this time of year is inevitable in this household.

When the weather cools and the air is crisp, we start yearning for slow braised and comforting dishes.  Bring on the stews, the soups and the roasts.  All of these things cook up wonderfully in a slow cooker and you have the added benefit of coming in from a hike through the woods to a house that smells amazing.

I was really surprised at how many of my blogging friends don't get along with their slow cookers.  Some of them don't even own them!!  Say what?!  I know, I couldn't believe it either.

I LOVE my slow cooker.  There are certain meals like my Stew or my Pulled Pork that I will only cook in a slow cooker.  Other things like pot roasts, soups, pasta sauces, etc.  I will make using either a crockpot or braising in the oven or stove top, depending on my mood and what else is going on during any given day.

The crockpot is a great tool to use if you are going to be using your oven for something else, like maybe a nice loaf of Italian Bread to go along with this amazing sauce that I am sharing.

Now sometimes I make my Sunday Gravy on the stove top but only if I am going to be home all day to tend to it.  This pasta sauce is much like Sunday Gravy except I didn't add any pork product to it.

It still consists of layering flavor upon flavor and then letting it cook over low heat for a good long while.  The marrow of the beef shank literally melts into the sauce and the beef falls off the bone as tender as can be.

This is not an easy dish.  Crockpot is not always synonymous with easy.  In this case we sear the meat, chop and sear the veggies, add in some wine to deglaze the pan and then put it all into the slow cooker.  You can do this the night before should you want.  Just refrigerate it until the morning and then you can plug it in, turn it to low and walk out the door.

Once it cooks for a good, long while you want to remove the beef shank.  It will come out in pieces.  Remove any fat or gristle that you find and discard it along with the bones.  Break the meat into bite size pieces and return it to the sauce.  It will rewarm as you cook your pasta.

This hearty meal takes an inexpensive cut of meat and turns it into enough sauce to easily feed 12 people.  I didn't have 12 people so I kept out what I needed and froze the rest in two packages, enough to feed 4 with each package.

This rich, tender, flavorful sauce tastes and feels expensive when in reality you can feed a gang for a very small amount of money.  Using the crockpot for the braising portion of this recipe frees up your time and oven for other endeavors.  Beef Shanks can also be cooked in the Instant Pot if you don't have time to do a slow braise. Here is my recipe for Instant Pot Osso Bucco.

Please stop by and see what the others are sharing in our Crocktober event.  You will find links to all of their recipes following mine.  Happy Fall!!!

Beef Shank Pasta Sauce
adapted from Food&Wine

2 meaty beef shanks
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. good olive oil
1 sweet onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, diced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 c. dry red wine
1 (28 oz) can San Marzano tomatoes + can rinsed with water to equal 1/2 can

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over med high heat.  Pat the shanks dry and season with salt and pepper.  Sear the shanks on both sides, about 5-7 minutes, until golden brown.  Remove to the crock of your slow cooker. 

In the same pan, add the onion, celery and carrots.  Season with salt and pepper. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, add the tomatoes.  Rinse down the side of the can with about 1/2 can of water and add to the skillet.  Cook and stir, breaking up the tomatoes, for a few minutes.  Pour over the beef shanks in the crock of the slow cooker.  Add the mushrooms to the crock.

Deglaze the skillet over med high heat with the wine, stirring and scraping up any brown bits stuck to the pan, until the wine is reduced by half.  Add to the crock of the slow cooker.  Cook on low setting for 8 hours.  

Remove the beef shanks from the slow cooker to a cutting board.  Remove any bone and fat from the shanks. Break the meat into bite size pieces and return to the crock to heat through.  Print Recipe

#Crocktober: Recipes for the Slow Cooker


  1. Mmmm... so perfect for this rainy day we're having!

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  3. Oh my goodness...does this ever look amazing!!! Definitely plate licking worthy!!!

  4. Holy moly is that pure comfort food or what? I want to curl up on the couch, with a big bowl of that and binge watch some tv Yummy!

    1. That sounds like the perfect plan on a rainy day like it is here today Megan.

  5. That looks so hearty and flavorful! What a perfectly luscious dinner, Wendy! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Crocktober!


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