Slow cooked shin of Beef with Cinnamon and Star Anise


There’s something about slow cooking which quickly prepared meals (regardless if wholesome and homemade) just cannot replace. Depth of flavour, love and attention and a melt in the mouth texture. Slow cooking allows so much time for the flavours to develop and infuse. I was skeptical at the extent to which just a small star of wooden star anise and a cigar coil of cinnamon could impart but it really is amazing at the subtle but very evident punch a pinwheel of spice can offer. Don’t worry, the chocolate cannot be tasted in an offensive way just a rich silky background to a beautiful sauce. Although I will warn you….don’t think about adding your favourite Cadburys bar. Keep it dark.

Serves 3-4

  • 1kg beef shin (allow a little more if feeding hungry chaps or leftovers)
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 1 pint red wine
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pint beef stock
  • 25g dark chocolate (85%+)
  • Flat leaf parsley
  • To serve – roasted cumin carrots, savoy cabbage, creamy mash
  1. If you can, soak the cuts of beef in the red wine with the cinnamon and star anise over night.
  2. When ready to cook preheat the oven to 120°C. Heat a large heavy bottomed casserole dish with a splash of light oil, pat dry the beef and season well. Brown in the oil on all sides until golden and then set aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion and gently cook until soft for about 15 minutes making sure they don’t catch on the bottom.
  4. Add the beef back to the pan and turn up the heat. Add the wine, the cinnamon, star anise, pepper and bay leaf.
  5. Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for a few minutes until the wine has reduced a little. Top up the pan with enough beef stock to cover the meat and prevent it from drying out on cooking.
  6. Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours with the lid on by which time it should be deliciously tender and falling apart.
  7. After 3 hours, remove from the oven and take out the beef and as many onions as you can and set aside.
  8. Drain the sauce (adding a little more stock if it has reduced too much) and discard the spices. Place the sauce in a saucepan and simmer gently to thicken slightly spooning off any fat. Season to taste.
  9. Add the chocolate and stir in until melted.
  10. Return the beef to the pan and heat through.

Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley with some deliciously creamy mash potato. Soften some chopped garlic in a knob of butter before adding some shredded savoy cabbage and braising until soft. Cumin roasted carrots with a charred edge are also a delicious pairing.