The Beef shanks in this dinner are from the Black Angus cow I purchased in November. Shanks are very tasty with lots of gelatinous fat between the muscles, which adds richness and flavor, but they need to be braised till fork tender. The Morels were wild foraged by my friends Elizabeth and Danny. They were up in northern California in early winter and foraged a whole grocery bag of morels and boletes. The mushrooms were dried in a dehydrator and I received a quart of morels and a quart of boletes. Just for being me. Aren't I lucky to have such good friends.
I started by seasoning with salt and pepper browning the shanks in a little olive oil till nice and caramelized. While meat is caramelizing, cover a large handful or two of dried morels with boiling water. Once softened cut morels in half and rinse in cold running water to remove any grit. Strain soaking liquid and reserve. Alternately you can add fresh mushrooms of your choice to the pot after caramelizing the meat.
I added 1/2 chopped onion, a couple of crushed garlic cloves, 5 slender carrots halved, a bay leaf and a few sprigs thyme to pot. When the onions were soft I added 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 2 cups red wine and reduced by about half. I added 4 chopped tomatoes from a can of whole peeled tomatoes, 1 cup of very rich beef stock, strained mushroom liquid and water to bring liquid level about 2/3 of the way up the side of the meat. Meat should not be completely immersed in liquid. Add cleaned mushrooms. Bring to a boil, cover with foil and pot lid and put in a cool (310 degree) oven for about 3 hours or till meat is fork tender. Remove meat from pot, skim fat from sauce and if desired separate meat from bones and gelatinous tendons/fat. I don't mind the fat in my dish but my husband and children don't like it. Served with wide noodles.