When you think of barbecue, you don’t often think of stews, but a grill or smoker is actually a great way to make a stew. One of my favorites is osso buco. It’s prepared by braising beef shanks slow and low in a rich Italian sauce.
Beef shanks come from the leg of a cow. They are a less popular cut of meat, which is great for you because that means they cost less per pound. But don’t let the lower price fool you.
Certified Angus Beef® brand beef shanks are full of meaty flavor. You can see all the marbling in the photo below.
When I rub my shanks, I don’t usually measure the ingredients. I just sprinkle them with my favorite herbs and seasonings. In this case that means salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and thyme.
Smoke = Flavor
When I cook this dish on the stove, I sear the shanks in a hot pan with a little bit of oil. But when I want more flavor, I smoke the shanks before they take an Italian tomato bath. When smoking beef, I often use hickory and cherry wood. Both marry wonderfully with the sweetness of beef.
After about 2 1/2 hours at a temp of around 275F degrees, your shanks will have a beautiful mahogany color. This is when you know they’re ready for the final step.
Saute the veggies until they’re tender, and then add the beef to the pot with wine, beef broth, olives and tomatoes. The olives are a little twist that add a nice salty brine to the dish.
Add the lid to the pot and let the beef and veggies swim around for about 3 hours. You can do this last step back on the grill or in an oven. If you keep the temp at 275F degrees, it will take around 3 hours.
If you’re in a hurry, you can crank the heat up to about 300 and reduce the cooking time to 2 hours. The key is that you want to cook it until the beef is fork tender.
When you open that lid the aroma is heavenly.
Remove the bay leaves, thyme sprigs and shanks from the pot, and shred the meat, removing any gristle and bones. Be sure to save that bone marrow though. That’s extra flavor. Return the meat and marrow to the pot, and toss with the sauce.
This smoked osso buco stew is great served over Parmesan grits, polenta or pasta.
I like using bucatini pasta. It’s a little bit thicker than a standard spaghetti, but it has a hole down the center, so it will absorb extra sauce for flavor inside and out.
To make Parmesan cheese grits, bring 6 cups water to a boil with 1 teaspoon salt. Stir in 2 cups grits. Cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 tablespoons butter and 2/3 cup shredded parmesan cheese. Continue cooking, until cheese is melted.
Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and fresh thyme or gremolata (a blend of garlic, parsley and lemon zest) and a robust red wine.
Smoked Osso Buco
Elevate your barbecue skills with this Smoked Osso Buco. The melt-in-your-mouth beef is smoked to perfection and braised in tomatoes, olives and red wine.
Heat the smoker to 275F degrees with hickory and/or cherry wood.
Season the beef shanks on all sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and ground thyme.
Place on the smoker over indirect heat and smoke with the lid closed for 2 1/2 hours.
Place a large cast iron pot on the stove over medium heat. Heat the oil. Add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic and sauté, until tender. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Place the beef shanks in the pot.
Increase the smoker heat to 300F degrees. Place the pot on the smoker. Cover with a lid. continue cooking for 2 hours.
Using two forks, shred the beef, removing the gristle, fat and bones. Mix with the sauce, and serve over parmesan grits, polenta or pasta.