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

  • r

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.

                1. I like to make niu rou mein with beef shanks and bones. I slow cook them until the meat is falling off, then chill the meat and stock separately to remove the fat. The bones I sometimes put back in the slow cooker to simmer for additional stock, if needed.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: trentyzan

                    YEP! Beef shank and shin are wonderful for chinese cooking beef noodle stew. great stuff.

                    Wife cooks it til it is almost gelatinous. I would not pick it over a bone-in ribeye, but a heck of a lot cheaper.

                  2. Go CHEAP CUTS!!! Under rated, beer braise the shank. pretend its a stew, big chunks of the typical veg, one whole beer, and let her go. once done (2.5+hr) remove the undesirables, suck the marrow out, put the bones in the freez until your ready to make a stock. slice the meat and place over a mound of rice or mash-taders then place the veg and some broth across the meat.
                    I'm not sure why people complain about "gamey" or "tough" cuts. My take is this; if you can create a good/great meal out of a cheap or less than perfect cut of meat no matter the source, your doing doing a good job. remember Port was once a "peasant" drink.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: smelliott

                      The same cut from young beef (calf) is used for one of the fanciest Italian dishes, while beef shank is used for a more robust working man's Peposo - beef shank stewed with red wine, garlic, and lots of black pepper.

                    2. On the advice of someone, I went looking for beef shank for a stew. None of the markets where I live sell them. I was able to find them in the 1 inch steak form with a bone in the center at a hispanic market. Floured them, braised them for hours till they were fall off the bone tender. The stew was thick and rich and flavorfull. No odd or gamey taste to them. They were gristly, but the long cooking broke it down quite nicely. I'm sold on beef shank over chuck steak or other stew meat that is sold.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: Wyvern

                        I love beef shanks - I get them in jumbo packs at Costco (whole, but no bone, about a pound or two each), and stew them for about two and a half hours. Then I cool them, slice them or cut into cubes and toss in the freezer as the base for stewed dishes that don't take hours on a weeknight.

                        As a bonus, I've now got a big pot of gorgeous, gelatin rich beef stock to use for other dishes, or to turn into demi-glaze.

                        Oddly enough, it's the beef cut that *easiest* for me to find, not to mention the cheapest. I think it's actually cheaper than ground beef, by weight.

                        The other benefit is that shanks are pretty low fat, so unlike the so-called "boneless beef ribs" they can be used in a slow cooker and not come out greasy.

                        1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                          Oh I wish my Costco carried beef shanks. Are they in the butcher case? Where are you located? I want this NOW.

                          1. re: smtucker

                            Taiwan - so I don't think it's going to help you. :-) They also sell jumbo packs of beef tendons (which are amazing if cooked well).

                            Beef shanks are a key ingredient in beef noodle soup, a local speciality.

                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                              A bit far to travel for beef shanks. Too bad. Please enjoy some for me.

                            2. re: smtucker

                              Do you have a Korean or Chinese Supermarket near you?

                              1. re: chefj

                                I have a very good Korean market. Never seen beef shanks in the case. Perhaps I need to go in the afternoon when the English-speaking kids are around to ask. Good idea. Thank you.

                                1. re: smtucker

                                  Usually in 2" slices not whole.

                        2. They are great for Stewing, Braising and Soups. I f ind them much better that Chuck. Like Oxtail with less fat.
                          They are readily available here at Korean Markets.
                          I have never had any problem with the Texture or Flavor and I use them quite often.
                          There are many recipes that ask specifically for them.
                          As Paul J said whole they are huge so you do not find them that way. 15# or so

                          1. beef shanks are unpopular because the require knowledge and commitment to cook them.

                            A butcher has only so much display space so he must merchandise product with significant demand. Areas with small or non existent Asian, Latin, or old world European cooks won't support beef shank.

                            If you love big beef flavor it is one of the most rewarding things to cook.

                            1. I have made beef shanks a couple times. I braised them as if making osso bucco. The dish was very good, but the meat definitely had a much stronger, gamier flavor than veal or lamb shanks.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: NE_Elaine

                                Never noticed a gamey flavor from beef shanks. But they have not been grass fed

                              2. I use them regularly for all kinds of low-and-slow braises.

                                I'm pretty sensitive to gamey flavors, but I've never noticed it with beef shanks -- quite possibly because I usually braise it with bolder flavors -- tomato sauce, red wine, etc - and European animals are much, much older at butchering than their youthful American counterparts.

                                I reckon it's not all that popular because "cow" just doesn't carry the verbal appeal of lamb or veal.

                                1. Here in Texas one finds beef shank in Caldo de Res (beef soup).
                                  It is relatively easy to prepare at home and you can find lots of recipes on the web.
                                  Some of the hispanic markets will have "kits" of the veggies trimmed and ready in a bundle to take home. All you need to add is the beef shank, water, and spices.
                                  Many Tex Mex restaurants serve Caldo de Res on weekends along the the well known hangover cure Menudo.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: The_keygrip

                                    I have to confess to loving those veggie kits -- I can buy a couple of variations on the theme where I live (ratatouille in the summer, and pot au feu/beef stew in the winter) -- sometimes even with the bay leaf and thyme all ready to go!

                                    I *usually* have the veggies on hand anyway, but if I'm running low, or I'm in a hurry, it's kinda nice to have the right ratio of vegetables all in a single package and ready to go. (and zero guilt, because it's fresh vegetables and fresh herbs -- nothing processed)

                                  2. Beef shanks have great flavour (only topped by oxtail) and lots of gelatine for the sauce or soup. I buy a piece of 4-5 pounds (bones separate and sawn into pieces) and turn it into boiled beef (hot or cold with salsa verde) or Boeuf Bourguignon.

                                    1. Guys, keep it quiet! Shank is just about the only good, cheap beef cut left!

                                      Well since we're talking about it anyway... 2 - 3 hours of simmering will make it tender but it won't fall apart into shreds. It will still have chew and will retain its own flavor - a metallic grassy tang which I really like. I like to cut it off the bone, trim the membrane, and dice it into thumbnail-sized pieces before browning for a chili or wine-based beef stew. Don't forget to include the bone cross sections in the simmer stage because they release a lot of gelatin into the braise.

                                      Shank is also the only cut for Taiwanese beef noodle soup. Again, trim meat off the bone and then slow-simmer in a stock made of soy sauce, shoaxing wine, ginger, garlic, onion, chile paste, star anise, five spice and sugar. When the meat is tender enough to shred with your fingers, chill it, thin slice it, and serve over noodles with a generous ladle of the braising liquid. Garnish with minced scallion and suan cai (pickled vegetable). Freeze the leftover stock for next time as it just gets better and better.

                                      Has anyone tried grinding beef shank into hamburger? You would need to add fat but I bet the flavor would be incredible.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                        Well, no problem there. Not a single grocery store in my area carries beef shank.

                                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                          The trim I order for my organic grind is mostly shank meat.

                                          1. re: Brandon Nelson

                                            How is it? Is there a big flavor difference between that and say, ground chuck?

                                            1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                              I'm not fond of it as grind, but we do it as extra lean 85%. I won't touch grind with that little fat in it. When I buy grind I keep stuff that has been ground once. Retail grind makes 2 or sometimes 3 passes through the grinder in order to get an even red color. Looks prettier, but makes an inferior burger.

                                        2. I love them. They are common in Latin markets as noted elsewhere on this thread.. I also occasionaly find them at Whole Foods. One of my favorite prepartaions is from Norman Van Aken's cookbook, braised beef shanks con mani. Her is a link to a verion of it from the California Tomato Growers Association.


                                          1. Beef shank is the cut of choice for N. Indian and Pakistani styles of nihari. I love the texture of the meat. It is so soft that it breaks apart when you press it gently with a naan, and it melts on your tongue when it enters your mouth. It's a really great cut of meat.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: luckyfatima

                                              ooh, ooh -- recipe, please? That sounds so good!

                                            2. I adore the flavor and the texture, the rich gooeyness of the braising liquid, mashing the marrow into my baked or boiled potatoes. I'm delighted that they come sliced, thus not only letting me do low and slow in just a few hours, but giving ready access to that marrow. What I don't like is that a meal of this is almost a guaranteed gout attack, for all the reasons that make them taste so good, and now that the other half of the family has gone off meat completely I can only write wistfully of the sticky, beefy, savory glories gone by.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Will Owen

                                                Will, You can't give up everything! I think you need another doctor, one who understands that your gout is from something else. It could be! Look into it, please.

                                              2. In old 'Joy of Cooking', shank is the recommended cut for beef broth.

                                                1. I made Osso Bucco with beef shank last week and it was delicious. Slow cooking yields a tender piece of meat with excellent flavor. Actually I prefer it to veal shank.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: mike9

                                                    I was wondering as I read down this thread whether osso buco would come up. I have used beef shank for it several times and found it delicious, fattier than OB made with veal shank, and slightly different (if "gamier" didn't carry negative connotations, I would say gamier--in a good way).

                                                    1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                      I did mention an Italian cousin, peposo

                                                      Some recipes use just wine, garlic, and pepper (lots of it), but others include the sort of vegetables that are common in the veal dish.

                                                    2. re: mike9

                                                      Osso Bucco is one of my favorite meals. I make it wirh veal when I can find it but I enjoy it just as well with beef, lamb or pork shank. Its near impossible to buy veal of any kind in my area.
                                                      Growing up in New Orleans veal was dirt cheap. We ate more veal than beef. Veal broth and veal chops was the fed to folks and children who were ill. My favorite was Kidney Chops. A veal chop with a section of kidney inside the curve of the bone. Wish I could run accross them again.

                                                    3. I love it for Bo Kho - a spicy Vietnamese beef stew redolent of star anise, lemongrass, and ginger.

                                                      1. "Husleves" is why cattle have legs and it's made with beef shank.

                                                        Husleves is Hungarian beef soup with egg noodles or liver dumplings. I'm sure many of you have enjoyed it.

                                                        Google "husleves recipe" to learn about Hungarian beef soup, but be sure to fasten on a result that uses shank - there are impostors - the flavour and texture come from the bone, marrow and connective tissue.

                                                        The focus is on the soup - the veggies and meat are good and need some forgiveness if you're not familiar with this dish because their flavour has gone into the broth. I always enjoy them because the tastes and textures are so delicate.

                                                        Yes, the marrow is a week's treat in itself. It goes onto bread hot with salt and pepper before the soup is bowled.

                                                        Everything is better the next day.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: DockPotato

                                                          does it go under a different name? I'm pretty sure I've never seen that word before, and equally sure I've never eaten something by that name.

                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                            "Hungarian Beef Soup" maybe? You will also come across "Marha Husleves" which is probably the proper name.

                                                            1. re: DockPotato

                                                              I got nothin'. Not saying nobody else has never heard of it, though.

                                                          2. re: DockPotato

                                                            Oh yes, the good old Husleves. But from the top of the beef shank (as marha labszar) I cook goulash (gulyás) and greek Sofrito as well. Very good cut for slow cooking.

                                                          3. I use beef shank for soup bone. It gives a rich beefy taste to a beef-vegetable soup or minestrone and a sort of body, an almost imperceptible gelatinous quality that makes a hearty soup. I don't "harvest" the meat though.

                                                            1. How long would you need to cook cross sectioned beef shanks, I've seen recipes go from 2 hours all the way up to overnight. I'm guessing the longer the better but is 2 hours really enough time?

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: JerkPork

                                                                If you season, brown, and then put beef shanks into a cooking liquid such as beef stock and bring them to a boil and then simmer, two hours should probably be enough. You can certainly cook them longer if they are not tender after two hours.

                                                                Whenever I'm using them, it is usually for a meal that is not going to be served the day they are cooked. I braise them and then let them cool in the brasing liquid. They seem to taste best when handled that way. Then reheat them the day they are going to be served whether it is a stew or soup or whatever. I like them because they are really 'beefy' in flavor.

                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                  I've done them overnight in a crockpot, but it is a very old crockpot with a very low "low" setting. I don't just "reheat" them, I re-elaborate them, reduce the liquid etc.

                                                                  1. re: lagatta

                                                                    I did not mean to imply the dish was finished the first day and simply reheated.

                                                                2. re: JerkPork

                                                                  When in doubt, braise meat like this when you have plenty of time. You can rewarm it at serving time.

                                                                3. First, bone marrow is so good for your joints and ligaments. My accupuncturist highly recomends it. I make it all the time. Second, I have tried every single kind of meat in my bone marrow and other meaty soups.. ..from filet mignon and other steak cuts to lamb cuts and veal cuts and I have to say that organic beef shanks is the softest melt-in-your-mouth meat of all! I cook it overnight in the crock pot with water, coconut oil and a garnet potato and seasonings like coriander, cumin, onion powder, dulce and himalayan crstyal sea sal. Last, when i pour it into bowls, i then add kale and greens and let it sit for 5-10 mins in the bowl and the heat cook the greens just enough ...the meat is so delicious and melts in your mouth. I was suprised at how inexpensive it is, thought mine are closer to $4 or $5 due to being organic meat. I dont care. I can afford any kind of meat I want and I choose shank! I had no idea what part of the animal it came from. Only how it tastes and how soft and buttery and delicious the meat is....Additionally, the soft marrow and cartlidge is so good for your body! xoxo

                                                                  1. I have always liked beef shank, but not too many years ago discovered whole, not sliced, beef shanks at my local oriental (hong kong, mostly) grocer. They are boned out, as apparently they cannot sell the bones for as much. I have great results with this whole-ish shank in the slow-cooker, with some marrow bones. It's meltingly tender, lots of gelatin, doesn't get dry. Great pot roast.

                                                                    1. i think they're great. i usually just pressure cook them to save time. they are fairly cheap cuts so they're great for just shredding and making tacos out of them. even just soup.

                                                                      1. Answer to first question: Because a cross-section of the leg of a cow looks disgusting. Answer to second question: Use beef shank to make vegetable beef soup. By the time it's simmered four hours, it won't be tough and you can cut little bits of the meat and scrape out the marrow and add all to your soup, which will be intensely beefy (use onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, parsley, maybe some dried beans, canned tomatoes, and canned tomato paste). The finished product should be pretty thick. Eat it sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese. Have a chunk of French bread at hand.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                          A matter of habit and custom, probably. I'd hazard on the contrary that a cross-section of shank is a beautiful sight - a reminder of the carnal indulgence of eating a slab of dead animal for sustenance. A classic caveman chunk of meat.

                                                                          To answer the poster's question, I think there's no practical reason. Feature it on some popular food blogs or shows, and it'll soon be the buzz of the scene.

                                                                        2. I've never considered that they're anything unusual. As others have said here, they come in thick slices and are perfect for braising. My Latino market always carries them.

                                                                          1. It's made into ground beef. And ground beef is really popular.

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                Yes, that's what it's primarily used for in regions where ground beef is popular.

                                                                                1. re: Shazam

                                                                                  Cool. We grind our own meat. I'll have to try that. Thanks.

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Just a caveat, it's used for low fat/extra lean ground beef, not sure if that's what you actually want to make.

                                                                                    1. re: Shazam

                                                                                      Ah, that had crossed my mind. When raw it looks super lean but when cooked there sure is a lot of good 'connective tissue.' I'll do a mini-batch and see cause we don't like lean burgers. Thanks.

                                                                            1. Beef shank is wonderful braised. I hope it never gets popular so I can still buy it cheap.

                                                                              9 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Zalbar

                                                                                a few weeks ago, my butcher had shanks on sale, so I bought a couple. The following week, the lady next to me asked what you'd do with them, so I gave her my off-the-cuff recipe. Then the lady next to her asked...

                                                                                Before it was over, I'd padded out the recipe with more detail, given detailed cooking directions, mentioned how good the marrow is on garlic bread...

                                                                                ...and the shop had sold 8-10 big chunks of shank while I talked.

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  sunshine :), did you get the thick slices or whole ones?

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    thick slices -- they were actually (to my shock) cheaper than chuck roast.

                                                                                    They were really good -- did a kind of dirty marriage between a bourguignon and a New England boiled dinner. Really tasty, and the marrow rocked.

                                                                                    The leftovers were the star, though. I rough-chopped the leftover meat, and heated it with a big can of fire-roasted tomatoes, some garlic and a few big spoonsful of pesto and another glug of red wine.

                                                                                    Poured it over some tagiatelle with a few parm shavings -- awesome.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      Oh yeah :) Have you seen my posts about smoked tomatoes? I see some shanks and tomatoes in my future. Thanks.

                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                        the consensus Chez Sunshine was that the leftovers were seriously better than the original dish!

                                                                                        I heart those Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes -- the smokiness from the roasting adds such incredible flavor.

                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          Get a smoker and your life will change for the better :)

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            I've had them off and on -- next time I own one it will be an electric one. Screwing around with the charcoal drives me bonkers.

                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                              We got a great deal on a Bradley. LOVE it!

                                                                                2. re: Zalbar

                                                                                  Zalbar, in Mtl they are on sale at PA Supermarket this week (that is, Monday to Sunday - PA still runs its promotions from Monday to Sunday).

                                                                                  Closer to my place, I can always find them at Boucherie St-Viateur on Beaubien, corner Casgrain.

                                                                                  I'm sure they become ground beef at more "mainstream" supermarkets.

                                                                                3. I just came across this beef shank mole de olla recipe. Looks gorgeous. Thought I'd share:


                                                                                  1. Here's a dish I made recently using beef instead of veal. And in thick slices not the whole shanks. It was super.


                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      that looks a whole lot like the ragu I made with the leftover shanks.

                                                                                    2. Beef shank is one of my favourite cuts! I've stewed it and braised it, sometimes on the bone, sometimes off the bone, cubed (with the bone thrown in separately 'cause the marrow's the best part). I've even seared it and then thrown it in the crockpot. I've always found the texture to be wonderful -- similar to braised or stewed chuck (although the cooking time is a little longer). The flavour is super beefy and delicious, and you get the added bonus of that little nugget of marrow in the bone.

                                                                                      The presentation isn't as fancy as a whole lamb or veal shank (although a whole beef shank would be really frickin' impressive), which may be part of the reason they're less popular. Also, their cooking time can be twice as long as smaller, more tender shanks.

                                                                                      Anyone cooked with pork shanks? I've been eying some recently, but have yet to give them a try.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. If you're having trouble finding shanks (or any cut) try the following, probably in this order
                                                                                        (1) meat department of local grocery stores - if the shelf is bare ask the butcher behind the counter, not general employees stocking shelves. If they have legs in stock the butcher can usually cut what you need by the time you get the rest of your shopping done, but smaller meat departments or large chain stores may only carry certain cuts. Ask the butcher if they can recommend a local butcher
                                                                                        (2) local butcher - often buy the whole animal or primal cuts and cut it themselves as it's cheaper that way. Higher odds they will have the cut you want or will be willing to order it in, but you may have to drive a bit further
                                                                                        (3) farmers market - if you're lucky to have a good farmers market there will be a few booths that sell specialty meats, local sausages, and the like. Follow your nose, there are often yummy samples, then ask away. They will have sources, being in the business and all.
                                                                                        (4) abattoir (slaughterhouse) - when all else fails go to the source, I find it cheaper for a lot of cuts and dirt cheap for dog bones, for the same price as one bone in a pet store I can get a whole boxful. In Canada you can search for federal abattoirs by location or species at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/active/sc...