This one is superb for winter weather, and pretty easy. A Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe with comments added.
3 pounds boned beef shank
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounce piece of salt pork, pancetta, or bacon cut into 3/4 inch chunks We usually use pancetta, it adds great flavour
3 1/2 ounces pork or bacon rind, cut into 3/4 inch squares
2 cups white wine
About 2 cups water or light beef stock
4 garlic cloves, bashed with the side of a knife
2 bay leaves
A couple of sprigs of thyme
2 or 3 strips finely pared orange zest
2 carrots, cut into big chunks
3 celery stalks, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 pound tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, and chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cut the beef into larger-than-you-think, not-too-boringly-square pieces, trimming off some, but not all, of the fat as you go.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan. Fry the bacon and the pork or bacon rind until lightly browned (but not crisp). Do make sure you brown well though, brown=more flavour. Once you are done with this step, you may need to pour off some of the fat rendered from the bacon/pancetta, depending on how well you know your cardiologist. ) Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large casserole. In the same oil, brown the beef, in 2 or 3 batches, and then transfer to the casserole.
Deglaze the frying pan with a little of the wine, then add the rest of the wine, heat until it boils, and pour it over the meat. Heat up the water or stock in the same way and pour that over too – enough to cover the meat by a good 3/4 inch.
Cut the onion in half and stick each half with 2 cloves, then add to the casserole along with the garlic, herbs, orange zest, carrots, celery, and tomatoes. Season with black pepper, but don’t add salt yet (remember the bacon and pancetta will give up salt to the pot). Bring to a very gentle simmer and maintain it, either on the stove top over a very low heat or in the oven at 250°F, for 3 to 4 hours, until he meat is completely tender. At this point the stew can be cooled, and kept in the fridge for a day or two, which, as ever, would be no bad thing.This dish, while incredible the first day just gets better and better if you leave it in the fridge for a couple of days.
To serve the stew, make sure it is thoroughly hot – if it has been left to cool – and check the seasoning. Remove the onion (unless any of your guests fancies half an onion). Ladle the stew into deep plates or wide bowls, with plenty of the juice (which in this stew is meant to be thin and copious, rather than thick and reduced). You could serve it with potatoes – boiled, baked, or mashed. Or (an I rather like this option) with macaroni or some other noodly pasta, precooked and stirred into the daube a couple of minutes before you ladle it out. Alternatively serve with large chunks of crusty bread.