The shank primal is taken from the cow’s leg section, so you can imagine how tough this cut is since the cow often uses these muscles.
Sirloin, Round, Flank, and Plate.
However, just like any tough meat, it can be tender when cooked correctly. And as basic as it is, when cooked properly, it gives out a rich beefy flavour even with minimal seasoning.
That’s because the beef shank bones are filled with rich marrow. Bone marrow is the soft spongy, light yellow-coloured substance found in the hollow central core of the Marrow Bone ‘Pipe’. What is the “pipe”, you ask? The Pipe is what butchers call the straight section of the bone, which resembles, you name it, a pipe. It is where the bone is at its thinnest and, more importantly, where yellow marrow is most plentiful. Yellow Bone marrow is high in fat. When cooked, it has a nutty and creamy flavour, which adds a wonderful beefy umami (link umami) flavour to a dish.
Think “osso buco”!
The primal shank generally yields only one subprimal cut :
Because the shank is a portion of the leg, it is typically cut into sections called Shank Crosscuts. It is a lean cut owing to its muscular structure. But what it lacks for fat, the bone that accompanies the meat, makes up for it since it contains the marrow.
The shank crosscut is sometimes divided into further cuts:
1. Fore Shank
The lower front leg of the cow is called the foreshank, the lower front leg of the cow where the surrounding leg meat is tough and lean with low-fat content. This area contains a lot of gristle and membrane; therefore, it needs to simmer in liquid to make it tender enough to eat. Removing as much gristle and membrane as possible should also be done.When buying the foreshank, make sure it is bright cherry red and contains no excess liquid.
2. Hind Shank
The lower back leg of the cow is called the hindshank. This is the cut that is commonly found in stores. Butchers prefer selling the hindshank because it’s easier to cut, longer (so you get more uniformly shaped cuts), and has a higher saleable yield, which means it’s more profitable.
3. Ground Beef
It is very lean, and when grounded, it is sold as low-fat ground beef.
General Cooking Recommendations:
The ideal method of cooking shanks is braising or stewing, cooked for a long time at low temperatures in crockpots or higher temperatures in an oven to make them tender.
You can crosscut the whole thing when cutting the foreshank, making it easier to cook. Just remember that the centre-cut crosscut shanks have the most meat-to-bone ratio.
The shank is excellent for making stock and soup since it contains high collagen that converts to gelatin when cooked. Even in its grounded form, it will still be an excellent ingredient for consommes or broths.
The shank is a primal cut located in the upper part of the cow’s legs, making it tough and lean due to the frequent muscles in that area. Many consider this a basic cut, but cooking it low and slow can turn it into a fantastic dish with minimal ingredients.
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That’s it for this week.
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Ciao for now,