What’s the most flavorful cut of elk meat? The backstraps? The tenderloin? The sirloin?
Not so fast.
What if I told you one of the most delicious cuts of elk is often discarded by hunters and extremely under-appreciated as a whole?
Welcome to the best-kept secret among elk meat enthusiasts: the shank.
The shank, or upper arm meat on an elk, is typically too tough and sinewy for most. It’s often tossed, fed to the dogs, or simply buried after harvest. I’ll admit it: I never used to keep the elk shank either. It just seemed like too much work for a cut of meat that I probably wouldn’t end up enjoying anyway.
But then I learned exactly how to cook a proper elk shank, and I’ve been addicted ever since.
I wrote this recipe for anyone in search of a better way to cook their elk shanks and to help spread the good word about this very underrated cut of meat.
This simple recipe uses humble ingredients to really that enhance the natural flavors of the shank. By slow cooking your shank in beef broth, you break down the tough sinew and loosen up the meat, making the final product extremely tender and enjoyable.
Stay tuned, it’s time to get very most of your big game harvest and take advantage of the tremendous flavor that elk shanks have to offer.
What does Elk Shank Taste Like?
Elk shank is a complex and very rich cut of elk that can be extremely tender and flavorful if cooked the right way.
Usually tossed into the ground pile or simply thrown away, the elk shank is too often overlooked. Sure, the shank isn’t the easiest cut of meat to process or prepare, but it has a flavor profile every bit as savory and delicious as the tenderloin or backstrap.
Simple ingredients like onion, carrot, celery, and potato will really bring out the natural flavors of the shank and light up your palate in the process.
What You’ll Need
*Elk shank is often advertised and sold as ‘Osso Buco,’ which is just a fancy name for a cross-cut portion of elk shank. (If purchasing your elk as Osso Buco, use 3-4 portions for this recipe.)
- One elk shank or 3-4 Osso Buco portions – approx. 2 lb
- 1.5 cups of beef broth (I like bone broth, but regular beef stock will suffice)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Garlic Powder
- Two sprigs of rosemary
- Three carrots, chopped into 1-2-inch in pieces
- 4 stalks of celery, chopped into 3-inch pieces
- One white onion, chopped into 2-inch pieces
- Two russet potatoes, chopped into 2–3-inch pieces
- Medium-sized cast-iron skillet
- A crockpot
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 3-6 hours
Step One: Prepping and Searing the Elk Shank
First, you want to give your shank a nice sear to help lock in all those elk flavors throughout the long cooking process.
I start by coating the shank in olive oil, and hand rubbing salt, pepper, and garlic powder onto the meat.
Don’t be shy.
Next, pop that seasoned shank in the refrigerator for about an hour. By let your season shank sit, the flavors will get to know each other. This step isn’t necessary, but it does make a small difference.
In the meantime, you can wash, cut, and set aside your vegetables that’ll later be added to the crock-pot.
Now, for the important part: the sear. It’s vital to brown the shank and get a nice broil on the meat before putting adding it into the slow cooker. To do this, put the shank into a cast iron skillet with olive oil and pop it in the oven after you’ve preheated it to the broil setting. Leave it in for about 20 minutes, or ten minutes per side.
Step Two: Slow Cooking Your Elk Shank
Take the prepped vegetables and add them to your crock-pot.
Pour approx. 1.5 cups of beef broth in with the bed of vegetables. Put your seasoned and broiled elk shank over the top of the vegetables like a blanket, turn the crockpot to medium, and put the lid on.
Now, you’ve made it to the easy part: letting your shank cook! The hard part will be resisting the urge to pluck pieces of that delicious elk shank off before it’s actually finished.
Cook the shank for at least three hours to let all of the tissues, fat, and sinew break down. If you really want to go low and slow, set the crockpot to its low setting and let it cook for up to up to six hours. This method of cooking helps the bone and elk flavors reach optimum deliciousness.
Remember, you’re slow cooking; there’s absolutely no rush.
Step Three: Enjoy!
Serve your elk shank in a bowl with a few scoops of juices, and enjoy your feast! I recommend serving your elk shank with freshly baked rolls to soak up all of the savory, complex juices.
Where to Find the Best Elk Shank and Osso Buco
Want the world’s best elk meat shipped straight to your doorstep? Click here to browse the best elk shank and Osso Buco on the market, or click the button below to search through the finest elk meat on the market, sorted by supplier, cut, and source.
More Elk Recipes
- Elk Steak: Rubbed, Marinated & Cooked to Perfection
- The Best Elk Burgers: Grilled, Moist & Perfectly Seasoned
Special thanks to Kyle Clarke who taught me this delicious recipe and let me share it with the world. He deserves credit for the tasty photo atop this article, as well. Cheers to Kyle, a fellow elk meat enthusiast!