Thor's Hammer Is The Show-Stopping Steak That Saves You Money

What's in a name? Well ... practically everything, really. A name can call your attention, change your perceptions, and influence your choices. The most memorable foods have eye-catching names, but "Thor's Hammer"? Now you're just being extra. Although, if there was ever a food deserving of that name, Thor's Hammer is it. It's a massive hunk of beef attached to a long bone handle that looks like it belongs on a Viking chief's table. Order this at a restaurant, and you'll surely draw looks, with fellow diners marveling at this meaty beast.


If you want a great recipe for a gourmet dinner party to impress your guests with a meal that looks straight out of a restaurant kitchen, Thor's Hammer is the move. It's inherently impressive to look at, and it has an awesome name to boot. This cut is meant to feed a crowd, ranging between four and eight pounds, and on a price-per-pound basis, it's actually a great bang for your buck. Thor's Hammers typically cost $10-12 per pound, and although that does add up when you buy the whole thing, it's significantly more affordable than other steakhouse showstoppers like ribeyes and standing roasts, which run around $30 per pound.

What is Thor's Hammer?

Thor's Hammer is just a hardcore name for a beef shank, which is butchered in a particular fashion (it's also known as a volcano-cut shank because why have one excessively dramatic name when you could two?). The shank comes from the upper part of the cow's leg, where the muscle wraps around the femur bone. Thor's Hammer is cut to expose the bone, which the butcher then frenches. Frenching means cleaning the meat and fat off of bones. It's the same as the lollipop technique for chicken wings, and you'll also see it done a lot for lamb chops in order to create a clean bone handle.


The bone of Thor's Hammer, however, is certainly not meant as a handle unless you want to make an absolute mess. It's purely meant for show, and thus, a butcher will only expose about two inches or so of bone. If you've cooked it properly, the meat should fall right off the bone for serving. You won't have to pick around big chunks of fat, as this is a very lean cut of beef, but that can also present a challenge in the kitchen.

How to cook with Thor's Hammer

Since it comes from a cow's leg, beef shank is composed of muscles that do a lot of hard work. Consequently, the meat is extremely lean, and will become tough and dry if you don't cook it the right way. Thor's Hammer is not suited for speedy cooking techniques like grilling, and needs to be cooked low and slow. The best techniques for this are smoking and braising. These will each take a few hours, but the vast majority of the process is inactive time, leaving you free to do other things. That's one more reason that Thor's Hammer is a great choice for dinner parties, as you can work on making side dishes while it cooks.


To smoke a Thor's Hammer, you can season it with a dry rub or glaze, and put it in a smoker. You should do this in the morning so that it can cook all day and be ready for dinner. Braising a Thor's Hammer is quicker to do, and doesn't require special equipment beyond a Dutch Oven. Take a cue from Italian osso buco, which is made with veal shank, and use some red wine in your braising liquid for a rich flavor.