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Sep 23, 2007 11:03 AM

Any reason why beef shank isn't as popular to cook?

I see so many recipes for veal and lamb shank, but for all the in-vogue fervor over cuts that need long slow cooking, I rarely see recipes utilizing beef shank. Is there a reason for this?

Also, if I have a bunch of beef bones and beef shanks, would the best way to utilize them be in a beef stew or would the meat be too tough even after long stewing? I'm debating between braising them and stewing them.

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  1. The beef shank is tough and has a somewhat gamey taste to it (even when braised). I think it's best boiled and then shredded to minimize any dryness. The meat can be then reincorporated into say a braise or soup. I would definitely braise and not stew this cut of meat.

    1. I buy them when I can. I love the marrow that melts into the juices. It makes great soup.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Candy

        It's all about the marrow for me. But I shred up the meat into the gravy and sop it up with good bread.

        1. re: Crockett67

          Beef shank was the "soup bone" of my youth, Pieces large and small was the fountation ot the vegetable soups we had, Us kids would argue over who got the bone, to knock out the marrow from the bone on a tablespoon and eat the marrow on a chunk of crusty French Bread.

          1. re: mudcat

            You know, I've never though about actually using them as soup bones for vegetable soup. I bet french onions would be crazy delish that way!

            1. re: Crockett67

              Ooh. Roast 'em up, then scoop out the marrow and melt it into the broth.

              Or put the marrow on the bread before you melt the cheese... ohhhh, baby.

        2. re: Candy

          I'm envious. In my small upstate town despite (or, more cynically, perhaps because of) a substantial Latino population, beef shank is quite expensive, easily as much as veal or lamb.

        3. Beef shank is rarely sold whole. Often it is cut into slices about an inch thick, with a round of bone in the middle with its marrow. These cuts could be used in any braised or stewed recipe. In Asian markets I've seen other cuts taken from the lower leg, such as a banana shaped piece of muscle, or tendon, which is popular in Vietnamese soup.

          Size may be the main reason beef shank doesn't get many recipes of its own.


          5 Replies
          1. re: paulj

            I too only see slices of beef shank. We like to use them for soup and stew. I wonder why the meat cutters always slice them in that manner. I would like to try cooking a whole beef shank (depending on how large a whole beef shank is) some time.

            1. re: John E.

              Try asking if they have any in the back. I work as a meat cutter and we get our shanks in whole, but usually cut them for display (the whole ones are really heavy, really expensive and nobody knows what to do with them). If someone wanted a whole one, though, or even a large piece of one, I could have it for them in a matter of seconds.

                1. re: c oliver

                  I'm not positive off the top of my head, but I'd guess around 9 or 10 lbs. Ours are grass fed and local, which means that even though they're one of our cheapest cuts, they're still $6/lb. You can probably find them a lot cheaper.

            2. re: paulj

              My butcher carries beef shanks labeled as soup bones. He said they sell better that way. (I buy them and add marrow bones for broth.) And they do make wonderful soup, but I also save the meat after I braise them for stews. But the marrow is mine, all mine!

            3. At least as far as kosher meat is concerned, beef shanks are one of the least expensive cuts. They come boneless, and are big, tough muscles. They have quite a bit of collagen incorporated into them, which means they thicken their gravy extremely well, but also means you must cook the hell out of them. I think the reason that lamb shanks and veal shanks get a prefered place in the recipe library is because they can be purchased in single servings, and because the muscles are smaller they're ready in a shorter time. Beef shanks, on the other hand, being a few lbs each, take a few hours to be ready. That means they're great for crockpot cooking, and a great source of flavor for beef stocks, in place of or as an adjunct to bones.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ganeden

                Excellent for stews, but as with goat meat, the crockpot is your friend. They need VERY long, very slow cooking. As for a whole beef shank, it is huge. Wouldn't fit in my little crockpot, and I'd be eating it for a couple of months. (And I don't want to eat red meat very often). The collagen makes a lovely stew, with red wine or dark beer.

              2. I've tried Beef Shank several times. I don't really care for the texture or the taste, which is too strong and I can't really describe the taste, it's just not pleasant.