Shanks are a nutrient-rich cut that is often over-looked… because not many people know how to cook them.
The method is so easy!
And, this is one cut worth seeking out, for the nutrition and flavour.
Before describing the method, I’ll list the array of value in shanks:
Bone marrow: saturated with nutrients
Gelatinous, cartilaginous tissues: also very rich in nutrition
Pan juices / drippings, with beautiful, delicious, healthy fat
Meat: a few / several meals, depending on the size of the shanks; the meat is melt-in-your-mouth tender, when slowly cooked with low heat
Broth from the bones and joints: simmer them for a rich broth or soup, either on their own or with other bones
It’s worth mentioning that the nutrition is BALANCED with all of the above.
If we eat only the meat…
… we miss out on the vast diversity of nutrients in the marrow, cartilage tissues, pan juices and broth.
Each component has a different nutrient profile that adds to the whole for a balance that is fully nourishing (as well as deeply satisfying and richly flavourful).
Using every part of the cut makes economic sense, and no-waste is also an appropriate way to respect the life that was given for our nourishment.
Shanks, from lambs, goats or cattle
Garlic cloves, halved
Other aromatic vegetables or spices, if desired (such as ginger, burdock, cumin, fennel, etc)
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 275F
Place shanks in a roasting pan, along with the vegetables and spices. Adjust the quantities according to the number of shanks you’re cooking.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over the meat, with a generous sprinkle in the pan.
Add water to the pan, to come up to about 3/4 of the height of the meat.
Roast in the oven for 2.5 - 3.5 hours, or until the meat easily separates from the bone. If desired, cover the pan while it’s in the oven, uncovering it during the last 10 - 15 minutes of cooking time.
*Note: you can also add chunks of root vegetables to the pan, around the shanks, for the last hour of cooking time. They’ll absorb the flavours from the pan juices, and will create an easy one-pot meal.
HOW TO USE
Remove the marrow from the bones, and set aside to use separately
One suggestion: spread the marrow on buttered bread or toast; sprinkle with salt, and savour the rich nutrition
Shred the meat from the bones, along with the soft gelatinous bits and connective tissues. Use the meat as-is, or add to soups and stews (at the end of the cooking time), tacos, etc. If you can’t eat the gelatinous bits straight up, they hide well in soups, stews, etc.
Serve the pan juices (with the fat) with the meat, to make a gravy, or to cook future meals.
Save the bones and joints to add to your next batch of broth.