Coffee Braised Venison Shanks with Dried Cranberries
Venison shanks get no love. At the best of times, they get ground as burger, and at the worst, discarded with the scraps. That's a shame. Venison shanks are full of connective tissue and delicious meat that gets fall-off-the-bone tender when slow braised.
We like to cook them in a flavorful mixture of roasted tomatoes, diced onions, celery, carrots and red wine, osso buco style. To give this dish a standout flavor, we balance the bitterness of coffee grounds with the sweetness of dried cranberries. For extra richness, brown the shanks well before adding the remaining ingredients and placing the pan into the oven to slowly braise. Serve the shanks atop a bed of cheesy grits and make sure to spoon over plenty of the rich gravy from the pot.
2 whole venison shanks
2 garlic cloves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons finely ground dark coffee beans
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 red onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 carrot, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 14-ounce can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 dried bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 cups beef stock
2 cups Pinot Noir or other dry red wine
Start by adding a couple tablespoons of olive oil to an enameled Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Salt the venison shanks and brown them well in the oil. Turn them a few times to brown the entire shank.
Remove the shanks from the pot and set them aside. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the pot. Sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until the vegetables soften. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes, cranberries, garlic, ground coffee beans, red pepper flakes, rosemary, salt, cumin, coriander and smoked paprika.
Pour in the wine and stock, then bring the mixture to a simmer.
Nestle the browned shanks back into the sauce, add the rosemary and bay leaves, then place the lid onto the pot. Move the Dutch oven to a pre-heated, 275-degree oven. Cook for 4 to 5 hours until the venison begins to fall from the bone and the vegetables have cooked down into a rich gravy. Serve over a bed of cheese grits.
Top with diced flat leaf parsley, if desired.