Beef shank

Other Names: Garrón or chambarete (Spanish), giaretto (Italian), gîte de derrière (French, rear), gîte de devant (French, front), shin.

General Description: Full of great beefy flavor though quite tough, beef shanks are cut from the bottom portion of either the front or rear leg (from the knee to the hoof). Like oxtail, crosscut shanks simmered slowly in water or broth until the tough connective tissue and tendons turn to gelatin impart full body and rich flavor to soups. Shank meat ground once through the coarse plate of a meat grinder is unbeatable for chili. Boneless shank meat is popular in Korean cuisine, where it is used to make pressed shank meat, and may be found in Asian markets.

Part of Animal: Shanks are either the front or rear legs. More front shanks are found; rear shanks are cut up or ground.

Characteristics: Front shanks are smaller and not as tough as rear shanks. Shanks are relatively lean, consisting of many small muscles and lots of gelatin-rich connective tissue with a round bone in the center.

How to Choose: To make a rich beef stock, buy crosscut beef shanks, which look like gigantic osso buco rounds cut 1 to 2 inches thick. For Korean-style pressed beef, buy boneless shank meat, which consists of dense, cone-shaped sections of dark-colored muscle, ending in silverskin and tendon at one end and plump and open at the other. Hindshanks will be large in diameter; foreshanks are smaller, but either will work for almost every recipe. Choose center-cut shank rounds with a small round bone in the middle, if possible, because they will have more meat.

Amount to Buy: Buy about 8 pounds of beef shank to make 1 gallon of rich soup broth. Buy about 3/4 pound boneless shank meat per person.

Storage: Store cut beef shanks refrigerated up to 3 days. Store boneless beef shank meat refrigerated up to 2 days.

Preparation: Stock:

  1. Simmer crosscut beef shanks in water to cover for 4 to 5 hours, skimming as necessary, or until the meat is tender enough to fall away from the bone.
  2. Strain, discarding the meat or saving for another use.

Flavor Affinities: Black pepper, chile paste, garlic, ginger, green onions, lemons, herbs, paprika, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar.

from Quirk Books: