|Braised Deer Shanks...Try 'em, you'll love 'em...|
I shot my first whitetail at age 12. Many deer later around age 70 I read a recipe in Montana Outdoors for braised venison shanks.
Ever since that first deer what to do with the shanks had always been an issue—grind them up and spend the next week cleaning the grinder, carve them up and spend hours peeling off the silver skin to say nothing of those gawdawful tendons. Anyway it took all of about 30 seconds to decide what to do this time around with the four elk shanks still hanging in the garage.
Beyond sawing off the elk shanks and helping Gale with the heavy lifting (cast iron Dutch Oven is not light, in case you wondered) the credit for THE most delicious venison dish I’ve ever eaten goes entirely to Tom Dixon (who wrote the piece) and of course to Chef Gale who made sure it all went together and turned out properly.
While the shanks were cooking I did a little research and came up with this: Cooked on low heat (300° or so) for several hours (4 or so) in some sort of broth the meat is super flavorful and all the nasty stuff melts away, further enriching and somewhat thickening the broth (Gale has used chicken and beef broth some chefs suggest venison broth) and rendering the meat almost too tender to require chewing. According to Shaw the shank muscles work harder than other muscles and the more work the richer the flavor. Remember I’m just the messenger…
So begin by browning the shanks well in your favorite cooking oil, lard or, as Shaw suggests, duck fat. Go slow and turn the shanks often until every surface except the bone is well-browned. Beware: Too much on the bone side and the shank will fall apart…Not good.
Once browned, Gale adds enough broth to cover the meaty part of the shanks, a cup or so red wine, zest of a lemon, butter, her favorite spices and a small peeled and diced onion. Cover, put in preheated oven and then we take the Wire Sisters out for a run. Returning couple hours later she adds other veggies (any sooner they’ll turn to mush or worse, flat out disintegrate (though some recipes suggest straining and others suggest a food processor), adds liquid as needed and returns to oven until the meat starts to drop off the bone…
Serve over mashed potatoes, add a glass of wine and ENJOY…Trust me you will not be disappointed.