At my shop, tacos were always the best-selling lunch item. We made them with brisket, steak, smoked pork chop, chicharrones, you name it. But my favorite tacos were always made with shank meat. This braise is an extremely simple, traditional, and versatile recipe, so use it with different flavors to create new dishes.
Recipe by Meredith Leigh
FOR THE BRAISED SHANK
4 lb crosscut beef shank, bone in
Sea salt and pepper, for searing
1 sweet onion, chopped
2-3 carrots, coarsely chopped
1/4 bunch celery, coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 cups white wine
1 quart or more of water or beef stock, if needed
HERB AND CAPER SALSA
1 bunch fresh parsley (or carrot tops if you're being thrifty)
Scant 1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup cilantro
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 Tbsp salt
1/4 cup capers+
2 Tbsp caper brine
Melt the butter in a large pan. Pat the shanks dry with a rag, dust with salt and pepper, and sear until golden brown on all sides. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook about 5-7 more minutes. Pour in the wine and let it boil. Cover the pan with parchment and then with foil to seal in moisture. Transfer to 300°F (or lower) oven and cook, checking occasionally to ensure moisture. If you find the meat drying out, add some water or beef stock. Continue cooking, covered, until the meat is falling off the bone.
For the Salsa:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fine. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Warm some soft corn tortillas on a flat-top grill or in the oven. Place shank meat on the bottom and top with salsa. Add pickled onion, sour cream, or queso fresco.
NOTE:This basic braise recipe is very versatile and can be used to create multiple dishes.