Veal shanks with Italian flavours

Veal shanks with Italian flavours

Dean Cambray

It’s hard to believe these days, but shanks used to be one of the cheapest cuts going. Several of my butcher friends tell me stories about the days when they’d throw a few shanks to regular customers as a bit of a thank you. But these days, butchers get top dollar for each shank, and they’ve become a favourite dish on restaurant menus. In this recipe, the eggplant helps thicken the sauce to a wonderful lusciousness that brilliantly complements the soft, melting texture of the veal. I like to serve these shanks with soft, herby, cheesy polenta and a big dollop of basil pesto added just before serving.


Quantity Ingredient
2 medium eggplants
6 veal shanks
freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
150g butter
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 medium leeks, cut into 2 cm rounds
10 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 carrot, sliced into rounds
200g green olives, pitted
2 cups white wine
1 litre veal or chicken stock
1kg roma tomatoes, skinned, quartered and seeded
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup chickpeas, cooked
2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 lemon, juiced
Basil pesto, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and lightly oil a baking tray.
  2. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork, then roast for 20 minutes until very soft. Remove them from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. When cool, peel away the skin and chop the flesh roughly.
  3. Season the veal shanks with salt, pepper and the paprika. Heat half the oil with half the butter in a heavy-based casserole. Sauté the shanks over a high heat until evenly browned all over then transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  4. Add the remaining oil and butter to the casserole over a medium heat. Add the onion, leeks, garlic and carrot and sauté for 5 minutes, or until they begin to soften. Add the eggplant and olives and sauté for 2 minutes.
  5. Return the veal shanks to the casserole. Pour on the wine and stock then add the tomatoes and half the fresh herbs. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1 hour, covered. Add the chickpeas and zucchini to the casserole and cook for a further 30 minutes. By the end of the cooking time the veal should be very tender and begin to fall away from the bones.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice and scatter on the remaining herbs just before serving with a big dollop of pesto.
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