The flavor for these paleo beef shanks take their inspiration from the lovely Vietnamese soup known as pho, cooked down to a thick and nutrient dense glaze. Paleo-purists may choose to serve it with cauliflower rice, but I’ve been cautiously experimenting with white rice in my diet and finding that not only do I tolerate it well, I’m feeling better than ever.
A few notes on ingredients
- Make sure you use a paleo-friendly fish sauce (this is a good brand).
- You can find coconut aminos next to the soy sauces in many health food stores (or buy it online here).
- If you elect to eat white rice, be aware that some rice has been found to have high arsenic content. Look for rice grown in California (such as this brand).
Modifications for healing diets
- Low FODMAP – Eliminate the onions and garlic.
- Specific Carbohydrate Diet – Do not use the optional coconut sugar, eliminate the coconut aminos, and serve with cauliflower rice to make this SCD legal.
- Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) – The spices are tricky here because they are a mixture of nightshades, seeds, and berries – all of which may be problematic for people with autoimmune conditions.
- Paprika is a nightshade, so that definitely needs to be eliminated.
- Star anise is a berry and Sarah Ballantyne recommends you be cautious with it. It will likely be fine for most people in this recipe.
- Chinese five-spice powder is comprised of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise, and white peppercorns. Of these, cinnamon and cloves are safe on AIP so I recommend substituting 1/2 teaspoon of each for the 1 teaspoon of five-spice powder.
Paleo Beef Shanks Recipe
- 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (for AIP substitution, see note)
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika (omit for AIP)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar (optional)
- Beef shanks (3-4 pounds)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, pastured lard, tallow, or other paleo-friendly cooking fat
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 3 cups beef bone broth (preferably homemade)
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon coconut aminos
- 2 medjool dates, finely chopped
- 1 whole star anise
- Mix five-spice powder, paprik, salt, black pepper, and optional coconut sugar. Rub all over surface of beef shanks, cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
- In a dutch oven over medium heat, melt the cooking fat, then sear the shanks on all sides (about 3 minutes per side). Remove to a plate and set aside. Do not clean the pan.
- Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Add the bone broth, fish sauce, rice vinegar, coconut aminos, dates, and star anise. Bring to a boil.
- Return the beef shanks to the pan, reduce heat to low and cover.
- Allow to braise at a low simmer for 2-3 hours or until very tender and almost falling apart, checking every 30 minutes or so to make sure the pan has not boiled dry (add more broth or water if it has) and to turn the shanks over.
- Remove shanks from pan and set aside. Turn heat up to high and boil the sauce until very thick and reduced to a glaze.
- Meanwhile, remove meat from the bones (which you can save for making future bone broth). You may also wish to remove the connective tissue and save for broth making if it is not appealing to you or your dinner guests.
- Return the meat to the pan and turn to coat with glaze.
- Serve with rice or cauliflower rice.
For more great Vietnamese flavored dishes:
- Vietnamese Chicken Wings with Chili Lime Sauce – DJ Foodie
- Five Spice Chicken with Green Apple and Ginger – Real Food Kosher
- “Stank-A-Dank” Crock Pot Pork Spare Ribs – Small Footprint Family