This is what modern comfort food should be like – having a completely sumptuous meal without going through much of a hassle preparing it. It’s really amazing how all of the flavors in this one-pot meal come together into a perfectly flavored dish.
If there’s anything special that makes this dish stand out, it is the choice of ingredients. Nothing more. This recipe calls for beef shanks, which for me, is the most flavor-packed cut of beef and there is no substitute. The umami you get from slowly simmering the bones, the richness rendered from the fat, tenderness from the evenly-marbled meat, the body you get from the collagen present in those connective ligaments, the sweetness from the mix of vegetables, how could you possibly go wrong?
Those shanks have to be blanched. Parboiling them in salted water for a minute or two will extract all impurities from the beef which may later render the broth cloudy. Put in a generous amount of salt to your blanching water and don’t hold back. This won’t serve to season the broth but rather act as a sanitizing agent. No need to worry as we’ll be washing this off later.
As soon as the water comes to a boil, put the shanks in. The temperature in the pot shall suddenly drop. Wait until the water comes back to a boil before you start timing. Just after a few seconds, you’ll see impurities coming up to the surface of the pot. Skimming this off constantly will make rinsing the beef later a lot easier.
After about 2 minutes, strain the beef off of the liquid and give it a good rinse under running cold water. Going longer than two minutes would be unnecessary, and would only put too much of the beef’s flavor to waste.
Transfer the blanched beef into the slow cooker together with the rest of the aromatics. Notice how rough I chopped mine? The long cooking time of this dish would practically get those onions, and garlic melting in the broth anyway and chopping them into little beautiful cuts would just be a waste of time.
After cooking for six to seven hours, those shanks should be tender enough. This is the time to add in those vegetables. It should only take them around 40 minutes on low to cook al dente, but you can definitely go as long as an hour if you want them really soft. I actually prefer mine overcooked to the point that I can easily mash them into the broth to add more body.
This should be interesting : if you happen to have some of this dish left over, try turning it into a cream soup. Strain out all those vegetables, shuck the kernels off the ears of corn, puree them in a blender, put them back into the broth, and finish off with some heavy cream. This may just turn out to be the best cream soup you’ll ever have.
I’ve done a lot of slow cooker testing over the past few months, and the one that I used for this recipe was the Crock-Pot Cook and Carry 6-quart model. We went to a Niner’s game the other day and I wanted to bring along one of my creations. It was getting chilly out, so soup is a great idea. It’s not the traditional burgers and beans, but it was popular for sure! The Cook and Carry models are great for taking along to tailgating events like that since they come with a locking lid.
Caldo de Res is traditionally served with chopped fresh cilantro and sometimes a squeeze of fresh lime juice. I prefer to have mine without those, as they tend to cut too much of the richness which I love.