Awesome Buco

I had the boy all day today, so I wisely thought ahead and pulled some beef shanks out of the freezer to thaw. By late afternoon I was beat, but at least had the beginnings of dinner under way. I peeled and sliced some burdock I dug up a couple of days ago- nice big fat roots- and threw them into the rice cooker with yesterday’s chicken broth and the local 10-grain blend augmented with extra brown rice, quinoa, and polenta since there wasn’t quite enough. With the addition of some dried porcini, it cooked up into a kind of polenta-risotto hybrid that warrants more tinkering; the hands-off ease of it all is appealing for days spent pursuing Deconstruction Monkeys™ all over creation.

The meat received a most traditional post-browning braise with aromatics, wine, herbs, and tomato paste for a couple of hours, and I made mash with the rest of the dandelion and arugula. All together, the dense, nutty grain and burdock mix was an excellent substrate for the rich meat and liquid (I hadn’t had time to chill it and remove the fat) and as always the mash was a perfect bright green counterpoint to all the various browns. The one drawback to cooking the shanks for this long is that the marrow mostly disintegrates into the liquid, but lacking that pleasure one can take solace in the super-tender meat. Some consolation can also be found in a 2000 Aquila Sangiovese by Sean Thackrey, which by his own admonition is never to be confused with Brunello but nonetheless makes “la bella figura” with semi-traditional fare such as this.

5 comments to Awesome Buco

  • Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

    Nice dish. Reminds me I have two remaining elk shanks that bear a striking resemblance to that hunk o’meat you got there.

    What is the mash? Arugula, dandelion, oil and…?

  • JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

    That looks lovely, Peter! I love elk. I don’t get to enjoy it often, but manis it good stuff!

  • peter

    H: Arugula, dandelion, ume plum, olive oil, lemon juice, pine nuts, and garlic all ground up in a suribachi. It’s a little different every time; search for “a note on mash” on my blog and you’ll find a post about it.

    J: This is actually just cow, but we had elk last week (if you scroll down to “Atonement” that’s the post.

  • JennDZ - The Leftover Queen

    Oops! I should have said it was in response to hunter angler gardener cook and the mention of elk! Your other recipe looks great too though! Thanks for pointing it out. :)

  • peter

    Aah. I see now. He’s got me beat; I didn’t shoot this animal. (But I did slap my credit card down on the counter in a very manly way.)

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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