Braised veal shanks with carrots, mushrooms and chestnuts

Braised veal shanks with carrots, mushrooms and chestnuts

A la Grecque
Mark Roper

This recipe is inspired by one I discovered in Paula Wolfert’s book The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. The carrots and onions cook down to a wonderful sweet purée that really complements the silky texture of the slow braised shanks. The mushrooms and chestnuts balance the dish with their nutty flavour and provide a contrasting texture. To my mind, it is a perfect winter dinner.

Ask your butcher to ‘french’ the shanks for you, which means to trim them neatly and scrape the flesh and sinews from the exposed bones so that they look tidy.


Quantity Ingredient
4 veal shanks, frenched if possible
freshly ground black pepper
125ml extra virgin olive oil
250ml pancetta, cut into batons
3 onions, sliced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs thyme
2 star anise
5 garlic cloves, 3 peeled but left whole and 2 finely chopped
4 carrots, diced
500ml dry white wine
500ml Chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
500g swiss brown mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
300g chestnuts, peeled and roasted


  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
  2. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Fry the shanks, two at a time, over a medium heat until evenly browned. As each batch is browned, transfer to a casserole or baking dish.
  3. Add the pancetta, onions, bay leaves, thyme and star anise to the pan and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are soft and golden. Add the garlic and carrots and sauté for a further 5 minutes, stirring. Tip all the vegetables into the casserole with the shanks.
  4. Pour the wine into the frying pan and allow to bubble over a high heat for a few minutes, stirring well to scrape up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken stock and boil vigorously for 5 minutes to reduce. Pour onto the shanks and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for 60 minutes, or until the shanks are very tender. Lift the shanks out of the casserole and set aside in a warm place until ready to serve.
  6. Remove and discard the bay leaves, thyme and star anise. Strain through a colander, reserving both the braising liquid and the vegetables. Tip the vegetables into a food processor and whiz to a chunky purée. Set aside and keep warm until ready to serve. Return the braising liquid to the casserole and boil until reduced to a thickish sauce.
  7. Heat the butter in a clean frying pan until it starts to froth. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 2–3 minutes. Add the chestnuts to the pan, and sauté for 2–3 minutes, stirring from time to time, until they are warmed through. Add the mushrooms and chestnuts to the sauce.
  8. To serve, spoon a generous amount of vegetable purée on each plate. Sit a shank on top of the purée and drizzle with sauce. Scatter the mushrooms and chestnuts around the shanks and serve.
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