Beef Shank Sauce Over Polenta


Anya Fernald loves using shanks from the Angus-Wagyu cattle on Belcampo's California farm. The richly marbled meat makes this simple sauce so much more delicious. Fernald serves it over polenta or with her husband's Baia line of pastas. "Or sometimes, I just eat it right from the pot." 

Beef Shank Sauce Over Polenta
Photo: © Fredrika Stjärne
Active Time:
1 hr
Total Time:
4 hrs
10 cups


  • 5 pounds trimmed beef shanks, cut 2-inches thick

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 4 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch dice

  • 2 cups dry red wine

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water

  • Cooked polenta or pasta, for serving


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add half of the shanks to the casserole and cook over moderately high heat, turning once, until browned, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining shanks.

  2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the casserole. Add the onions, celery, carrots, and a generous pinch of salt and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the vegetables are very soft and golden, 15 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and broth; bring to a boil. Return the shanks and any accumulated juices to the casserole. Cover and braise in the oven for 3 hours, until the meat is very tender.

  3. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the shanks to a plate and let cool slightly. Using two forks, shred the meat and scrape out marrow from the bones. Add the meat and marrow to the sauce and rewarm over moderately low heat. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and serve with polenta or pasta.

Make ahead

The shank sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Suggested pairing

Lively, medium-bodied red wine, like Barbera d'Asti from Piedmont, is a good match for tomato-based meat sauces like this one.

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