Winter Comfort - red wine braised elk shanks (pot roast)

January 2019, Kjell Hedstrom

There are so many ways to braise and create tasty Dutch oven dishes. This one was inspired from Hank Shaw’s Polish Venison Pot Roast as described in his book Buck, Buck, Moose and on his recipe page online. If you have not checked out his book and culinary page then you should. 

This altered version is closer to the pot roasts I made in Sweden where a hint of juniper and an acidic undertone is complemented with a touch of honey sweetness. A sure win with my kids.

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Like many slow cook recipes, this one works best with sinewy parts of the animal, such as the neck or shanks. It tastes amazing with all the tendons broken down to gelatin and it transforms the tough shank or neck into a succulent treat. Like all braised dishes it tastes a notch better the second day - but don’t hesitate to serve it immediately, it’s that good. 

Last Sunday dinner the family enjoyed this and with all kids taking seconds or thirds it was as good as it gets. 

 Meat

2-4 lbs of shank or neck.  

If the shank is with bone it should be cut or cracked to allow the bone marrow to come out

Marinade Ingredients 

  • 2 cups of red wine. 
  • 1 cup of apple cider vinegar  
  • 2-3 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tsp allspice (roughly 1 tsp)
  • 1 tsp whole black pepper
  • A couple of bay leaves
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 1 tsp whole juniper  

Marinade Instructions

Crack or crush all spices except bay leaves. Pour liquids into a big pot and add all marinade ingredients. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat and let it cool down.

Once cooled down pour the marinade into a non-corrosive container with  the meat. The marinade should cover the meat completely. Let it sit with the marinade. 4h is enough but you can leave it overnight. 

Once done save the marinade and pat the meat dry. Salt and pepper the meat and let it rest while you prepare the next step. 

Braised Ingredients

  • Oil for browning the meat
  • Marinade from earlier
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp smoked paprika 
  • 0.5 - 1 tsp mustard seeds, roasted for 2 minutes then crushed
  • 2 onions,sliced and diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced small
  • 2 carrots, cut into large chunks
  • 2 parsnips, cut into large chunks
  • 3 potatoes, cut into large chunks

 

Braised Instructions

Pre-heat the oven to 325F.  

Mix flour, paprika and the crushed mustard seeds in a large bowl. Coat the meat, a piece at a time and make sure the flour mixture covers the meat all over. 

Use a large Dutch oven and brown the meat, a piece at a time on the stove. Once a piece is done, set it aside and let it rest.

Once done with browning all the meat, lower the heat a little, add a little bit more oil and the onions. Keep stirring them. Once translucent and you see some browning then remove the pot from the heat.

Pour in the marinade. Use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits that got stuck to the bottom. These brown bits of taste explosion will dissolve in the marinade and help thicken it up to a sauce. 

Put the meat back in the pot and add 1-2 cups of water so the meat is touching the surface but not drowning. Place the pot in the oven, lid on, for 1.5h - 2h. 

Add the cut up vegetables to the pot and put back in the oven for another 1h to 1.5h. The meat should be fork tender and the vegetables cooked just right. 

Either cut up the meat in slices, or take a fork and break up the meat into smaller chunks. Place the meat in a serving dish and drizzle the thickended sauce on top. 

Serve immediately with the sauce infused vegetables