by: Steven Rinella – MeatEater
Shanks are the least appreciated, and most underutilized, cut of meat on a deer. I’m talking about that portion of a deer’s leg between the first and second joints on the leg. (Pardon the cannibalistic reference, but the equivalent on a human body would be the shin and calf region that sits between your knee and your ankle.) Most guys will either bone this portion of a deer for the burger pile or, worse, leave it on the scrap heap. But the same thing that makes a shank seem unappetizing—lots of gristle, or connective tissue—works in the cut’s favor if it’s used to make a simple yet classic Italian-themed dish known as osso bucco. When simmered over low heat in a tomato-based stew, those gristly shanks turn into glossy and tender works of art that’ll have your guests taking back every negative thing they’ve ever said about the taste of venison…
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound venison, cut into cubes
1 cup diced onion
1 (16 ounce) package frozen mixed vegetables
2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
3 cups potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 cups water
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1) Set oven temperature at 325 degrees.
2) Over a medium-high stovetop burner, heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven or similar sized cooking vessel. Dust the discs of venison shank in the flour. Then, working with three or four at a time, brown them on all sides in the oil. Set the browned discs aside on a platter.
3) Melt the butter into the same Dutch oven and sauté the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery for about seven minutes over medium heat or until softened and slightly browned. Then lay the pieces of shank flat side down over the bed of vegetables, so they form a single layer.
4) Pour the crushed tomatoes over the meat, along with the tomato paste. Add ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper, then pour in enough of the stock or water to bring the liquid up to the top of the shanks. Do not submerge the meat, just barely cover it.
5) Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and place it into the oven. Let it cook for a minimum of three hours, preferably four. Check on the dish approximately every hour to make sure the liquid level doesn’t drop too low. If it evaporates to a point that the shank pieces are only half-submerged, add some more stock or water to bring the level up to the three-quarter mark. It’s done when the meat can be picked away from the bone easily with the tip of a fork. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, and serve each disc of osso bucco over a bed or couscous or polenta (available in most any grocery store.) If you want to get fancy, add a bit of minced parsley. It’s worth the extra effort. And make sure to dig out the little bit of marrow in the center of the bone and spread that on a toast point. You’re in for a treat.
Now get hunting, and cooking!