Welcome Northwest Wild Country listeners. If you caught my interview on the show Saturday, December 2nd, thanks for tuning in! If you’ve stumbled upon this post looking for easy ways to cook up venison legs (shanks), welcome to my blog!
The ODFW Facebook Live:
So back to the shank topic… why celebrate the shanks?Tenderloins and backstrap get most of the attention when it comes to cooking wild game. Cut into medallions or grilled and served rare to medium rare, they’re both easy to prepare. But these underutilized muscles don’t come close to offering the flavor of shank meat.
Because leg muscles are used every day, their texture and blood-flow levels are different than less-worked muscles. Shanks aren’t fun to tediously butcher, but they are easy to prepare, whole. Simply fillet the shank muscles away from the bones of both front and back legs, sever all tendons toward the foot, cut away obvious fatty tissues, and it’s ready to cook.If aging your meat, remove the shanks two or three days into the process. If they appear dried out, they will rehydrate in the cooking liquids.
Tossed into a slow cooker, shanks look like a mess but once cooked down, the meat easily separates from the sinuous tissues. Some of the tissues simply melt away.
Whether planning to eat shanks sliced, like roast beef, right out of the slow cooker; cubed for stroganoff, “pulled” for BBQ sliders or chopped and mixed with mayo for sandwich spread, slow cooked shank meat is flavorful, tender, easy to prepare and incredibly versatile. If you ever run across seasoned cooks of wild game who tell you shank meat is their favorite tasting cut, believe them, then discover why.
- 2-4 shanks, removed from the bone
- 1 cup beef stock or broth
- 1 cup tomato juice or sauce
- Additional ingredients optional: 1 sliced onion, 5-10 cloves garlic, 1 sliced apple, 3-4 carrots, 3-4 stalks celery, etc.
Place shank meat in a slow cooker. Add beef stock/broth and tomato juice/sauce. Add additional seasonings, herbs or vegetables as desired.
Cook on high heat 3-5 hours or low heat 5-7 hours; slow cooker brands may vary with time and temperature. Use a fork to test for meat tenderness. Meat should still be firm but easily pull apart. Remove meat from liquid and let cool, slightly. Strain liquid from slow cooker, discarding herbs and vegetables. Return liquid to slow cooker. Cut or pull meat away from sinuous tissues and slice, cube, chop or shred meat and add back to slow cooker liquid. Season as desired.
TIP: Make your slow cooked food, fast, by cooling meat, vacuum sealing and freezing to use later. Add this pre-cooked meat to soups, stews, chili or gravy, be it at home or in hunting camp.
This writing was originally published in my Oregon Hunter Magazine cooking column, Sept/Oct 2015.
Shanks can be flavored with a variety of herbs & spices. A favorite for many cuts of venison is my Red Curry Blacktail. For shank meat, simply add ingredients to the crock pot and cook until tender. Keep muscle groups whole and slice across the grain before serving.
Another favorite is using cooked, seasoned shank meat in breakfast burritos.