Passover Recipe - Pressure Cooker Braised Beef Shanks - Wolfgang Puck Recipes

One of my favorite meals to cook every year is this pressure cooker braised beef shanks recipe for the first night of Passover.

Although I'm not Jewish myself, my two oldest sons are. So are many of my loyal restaurant guests. It made perfect sense, then, back in 1984, to celebrate the first night of Passover at Spago Beverly Hills with a special Seder, the ritual meal that tells the Passover story. We've continued the tradition there year after year.

So, by now, I know a thing or two about good Passover cooking.

For their Passover holiday main course, many people braise beef brisket, usually with lots of onions and maybe some dried fruit for a delicious sweet-and-sour flavor. But you know me -- I can't stick strictly to tradition.

That's why for many years now one of my most popular Passover main courses has been braised beef shanks, a tough, gelatinous cut that becomes incredibly flavorful and tender with long, slow braising. The same holds true for shank, one of the most delicious cuts of beef you can imagine, and I'm happy to share with you a favorite recipe for it here.

But how many people really have the time these days to cook things slowly? Even though the first night of Passover falls on a Monday this year, I don't know many people who can take the whole day off to do that kind of cooking.

So let me suggest that you cook this year's Passover main course in a pressure cooker, instead of braising it for hours.

You heard me right: A pressure cooker will deliver richly flavored, fork-tender results in minutes instead of hours. In fact, the high pressure actually causes seasonings to penetrate deeply into the meat and concentrates flavors, yielding results that some people actually prefer to those from traditional braising.

And today's pressure cookers are virtually foolproof, eliminating the uncertainty cooks felt about using them in generations past. Many eliminate guesswork with specific settings for the kind of ingredient or type of dish you're making, along with built-in timers. And virtually all models today have "quick-release" valves to help you reduce pressure inside the vessel quickly and safely. (One important word of advice: Always carefully read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for your pressure cooker before you use it.)

For even more convenience, you can make this recipe a day ahead. (And you can also substitute lamb or veal, if you like.) Remove the meat and mushrooms to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight; and strain the sauce into another bowl and refrigerate it, too. The next day, lift off the solidified fat from the top, then reheat the sauce with the meat in a saucepan before completing the recipe.

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Pressure Cooker Braised Beef Shanks Recipe

    Prep Time: 30 minutes

    Cook time: 1 hour 20 minutes

    Yield: Serves 4

Pressure Cooker Braised Beef Shanks Ingredients

    4 thick organically-grown beef shanks, each about 2 inches thick, or 8 shank pieces each about 1 inch thick

    Kosher salt

    Freshly ground black pepper

    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    1 medium onion, sliced

    1 large organic carrot, peeled and cut into sliced 1/2 inch thick

    2 organic celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces

    6 white organic button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered

    1 whole head garlic, cut in half horizontally

    2 tablespoons tomato paste

    1-3/4 cups red wine

    1 bouquet garni (1 bay leaf, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, and 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, tied inside a piece of cheesecloth)

    2 cups organic Kosher chicken broth

    2 tablespoons store-bought Chinese hoisin sauce or barbecue sauce

Pressure Cooker Braised Beef Shanks Recipe Instructions

    Season the beef shanks generously with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy frying pan over high heat.

    Add the shanks, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, and brown them on all sides, turning them with tongs, 7 to 10 minutes per batch.

    Transfer the shanks to a pressure cooker.

    Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and 1/2 teaspoon salt and continue to cook, stirring, until the mushrooms begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes longer.

    Add the garlic and tomato paste and stir well to coat the vegetables with the tomato paste.

    Cook, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant and the tomato paste has caramelized and darkened slightly, about 3 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan with a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan deposits. Add the bouquet garni and continue to boil until the liquid has reduced by about half its volume, 7 to 10 minutes. Pour and scrape all the ingredients into the pressure cooker. Clean the pan and set it aside.

    Add the chicken broth, hoisin or barbecue sauce, and 1 teaspoon salt to the pressure cooker. Secure the lid, set the pressure cooker to the "meat" setting, and bring to high pressure, following the manufacturer's instructions. When high pressure has been reached, set a timer for 22 minutes. (If using an earlier pressure cooker without meat setting, bring to pressure under high heat, then turn heat to low and cook for 22 minutes.)

    When the time is up, turn off the heat and let the pressure return to normal on its own, without using the quick-release valve. When pressure has returned to normal, use the quick-release valve to make sure all pressure has been released. Then, carefully remove the lid.

    Using tongs, return the cooked beef shanks and the quartered mushrooms to the frying pan. Strain the liquid into a bowl and use a large, shallow metal spoon to skim the fat from its surface. Pour the liquid into the pan with the meat and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly and coats the meat.

    Serve immediately.

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Pressure Cooker Braised Beef Shanks Recipe for Passover - Wolfgang Puck Recipes

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