Braised Beef Shanks with Sweet Potato Puree and Kale

Serves 4


1 large or 2 medium Garnet sweet potatoes, washed

¼ cup olive oil

4 small shallots, trimmed but not peeled

8 garlic cloves, trimmed but not peeled

1 yellow onion, peeled, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds

1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, sliced into thin rounds

4 beef shanks, each about 1 ½ inches thick

Kosher salt — Black pepper in a mill

1 cup red wine

2 cups meat stock

1 bay leaf

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons heavy cream, hot

1 bunch Lacinato kale, large stems removed, rinsed but not thoroughly dried

1 garlic clove, pressed

1 lemon


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use a thin knife or a fork to pierce the sweet potatoes in several places, place in the oven and set a timer for 45 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a deep pan set over medium heat. Add the whole shallots and garlic cloves and saute, shaking the pan frequently, until they just begin to color. Do not let them burn. Transfer them to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the onion and leek to the pan, reduce heat to low and saute until limp and fragrant, about 15 minutes; do not let them burn.

Season the shanks all over the salt and pepper. Push the onions and leeks to the side, add the beef shanks and brown evenly all over. Remove the shanks from the pan, return the shallots and garlic to the pan and combine with the onion and leek. Set the shanks on top, in a single layer, and pour in any juices that have collected around the shanks. Add the wine, stock and bay leaf. Increase the heat and, when the liquid boils, cover the pan and transfer to the oven.

Test the sweet potatoes; there should be plenty of give when you squeeze them. When tender, remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Break in half, scoop out the flesh, put in a small saucepan and mash with a fork until smooth. Add 3 tablespoons butter, a tablespoon at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Mix in the cream and season very generously with black pepper. Taste and correct for salt. Cover, set aside and keep warm.

After the shanks have been cooking for 90 minutes, remove the lid and cook for 30 minutes more, or until the shanks are fork tender; remove from the oven, cover and let rest for up to 20 minutes.

While the shanks rest, prepare the kale. Stack the leaves on a clean work surface, roll them into a tube shape and slice into 1-inch wide crosswise strips. Use your fingers to fluff them.

Put the remaining tablespoon of butter in a saute pan over medium heat. When it's melted, add the kale, cover the pan and cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half over the kale; add the pressed garlic, season with salt, toss gently and continue to cook until fully tender, about 6-7 minutes more.

Cut the remaining half lemon into four wedges. To serve, reheat the sweet potato puree and divide it among individual plates. Set a shank partially on the puree, add a mound of kale and garnish with a lemon wedge.

Working quickly, return the pan with the cooking liquid to high heat. Mash the garlic clove with a fork in the pan, stir the liquid well, taste and correct for salt and pepper. Drizzle some of the juice over the shanks and enjoy right away.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at