Awesome Cuts of Meat You're (Probably) NOT Eating: Beef Shanks!

Do yous stick to the tried too truthful when it comes to beast proteins at the grocery store? Do yous automatically accomplish for the boneless, skinless chicken breasts, the Blue Planet beef, the London broil, the boneless pork chops, or the turkey sausages? Do yous steer clear of the to a greater extent than gnarly looking stuff? Are yous afraid to pick upwardly a bundle of something unfamiliar because yous haven’t the faintest see what to do amongst it? Well, that ends today!

When it comes to cuts of blood-red meat, pork, too poultry, the modern American supermarket has travel a warehouse for the ho-hum, the been-there-done-that, too the simply evidently ordinary. If yous firm out to an ethnic market, however—especially an Asian supermarket, but also some Hispanic grocers—you’ll live treated to a veritable cornucopia of cuts you’ve probable never seen too maybe didn’t fifty-fifty know existed. We urban meat folk tin forcefulness out live excused for this. Not having grown upwardly on farms, it’s piece of cake for us to recall meat magically appears inward the globe cleaned, cut, too shrink-wrapped for our shopping convenience. It’s also piece of cake to forget that these yummy foods come upwardly from animals that aren’t simply congolmerations of musculus meat, but were living, breathing beings who had organs, bones, skin, too feet. Aside from the moral imperative nosotros should experience to engage inward “nose-to-tail cooking” (that is, honoring these creatures who receive got been sacrificed for the sake of getting into our tummies yesteryear using every fleck of them nosotros can, too non simply the pretty stuff), each of these lesser-appreciated bits comes amongst its ain laid of nutrients too deliciousness, provided nosotros know how to prepare them too brand the most of them. And a recent trip to my neighborhood chain supermarket showed me that fifty-fifty some of these regular ol' stores behave the to a greater extent than interesting stuff, too. You simply receive got to maintain an oculus out for it. (For why these forgotten cuts are so of import for our health, you'll simply receive got to read all the agency to the end. If you're super-pressed for time, skip agency downward to the paragraph inward red, but hope me you'll come upwardly dorsum too read the repose some other time.)

Today’s post service honors i of the less intimidating cuts, which is a peachy agency for skittish newbies to dip their toes into the H2O too gently ease into this brave novel culinary world.
Here’s proof that simply because I rag on WF sometimes 
doesn’t hateful I don’t store in that place too discovery peachy stuff

 Today nosotros celebrate the beef shank, a cutting that comes to us equally a horizontal cutting from the leg of the steer. Because of this, it’s got a roundish os inward the middle, surrounded yesteryear some pretty tough meat. Cooked improperly, the meat from a shank os tin forcefulness out live hard to eat. Because it’s from the leg, the muscles in that place are pretty hard-working. (How ofttimes do yous overstep yesteryear a farm too encounter the cows laying downward pampering themselves? Not often. They’re usually on their feet, grazing happily on greenish grass. With all that standing all 24-hour interval long, those leg muscles teach quite the workout.) So the meat in that place tin forcefulness out live pretty tough, non to cite it’s loaded amongst connecter tissue, simply similar our ain bones, muscles, too joints. Connective tissue is extremely skillful for us, but it tin forcefulness out live a challenge for fifty-fifty the strongest human jaws too chompers to gnaw through. So how do nosotros reap the nutritional benefits from this imposing cutting spell also truly beingness able to chew it?

Crockpot, crockpot, crockpot!!

If yous don’t receive got a slow cooker, travel buy one. Now. (I’ll wait.) If you’re non using a tardily cooker on a regular basis, you’re missing out on i of modern technology’s gifts to the hurried, harried prepare who wants to lay existent nutrient on the tabular array for themselves too their family. (Okay, maybe it’s to a greater extent than similar 1950’s technology, so possibly non so modern, but it’s non just a sub-zero fridge, or dipping things inward liquid nitrogen, or whatever the molecular gastronomy folks are doing these days.) Long before the purveyor of the tabletop rotisserie uttered his famous tagline, the tardily cooker was the original “set it too forget it” machine.

So what do nosotros do amongst beef shanks too a tardily cooker? The uncomplicated respond is: throw some materials inward the tardily cooker, allow ‘er proceed depression for a few hours, too and so chow downward amongst smiles on our faces. The poetic respond is: brand magic. The moist oestrus of the tardily cooker braises the shanks into falling-off-the-bone tender masterpieces too makes all the collagen, gelatin, too other “stuff” locked away leach out too travel ├╝ber piece of cake to digest too assimilate.

The initiatory of all matter to know is that tardily cookers are extremely forgiving. There are sure as shooting things that don’t do so good inward them, similar leafy greens too broccoli. (They plough grayish too agency too mushy for my liking.) But things that travel excellently are root vegetables (potatoes, yams, sugariness potatoes, parsnips, carrots, rutabaga), onions, too celery. Lucky for us, because onions, carrots, too celery also tumble out to brand peachy accompaniments to beef shanks.

With that inward mind, I offering yous the next recipe. However, similar other recipes I’ve posted before, this is to a greater extent than a guide than a hard-and-fast recipe. I’ll post service the basics too and so give yous some ideas on how to modify things.

1½-2 pounds beef shanks (grass-fed is best, but regular ol’ supermarket diverseness is improve than, say, tofu!)
1 tin forcefulness out (14.5oz) diced or stewed tomatoes, including the juice
1 large onion, sliced (I prefer white or yellowish over blood-red for this, but yous tin forcefulness out role whatever sort yous receive got on hand)
3 carrots, peeled & chopped into 1-1½ chunks
2-3 stalks celery, chopped into chunks  
¾ cup water
1 Tbsp common salt (I similar this kind)
1 tsp dark pepper
2 tsp smoked (or regular) paprika
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped coarsely
1-1½ Tbsp fresh rosemary (leaves either whole correct off the stem or chopped coarsely)
Place 3/4 of the sliced onions, celery, too carrots at the bottom of the tardily cooker along amongst some of the rosemary. Sprinkle the salt, pepper, too paprika on the beef (both sides…you know what Emeril says: “I abhor one-sided tasting food!”). Place the beef on top of the vegetables (in i layer if your tardily cooker is large enough; if not, it’s okay to overlap). Put the remaining veg & rosemary on top. Pour the canned tomatoes too juice over everything. If yous receive got whole or stewed tomatoes, give ‘em a squeeze before they travel in, simply to intermission ‘em upwardly too spread the love apple tree honey roughly to a greater extent than evenly. Add the garlic too water, laid the cooker to LOW, too allow it travel for nearly v hours.

When yous return—which yous will, because the odour wafting out of your kitchen volition teach inward almost impossible non to—you volition live treated to wildly tender meat that is so soft yous tin forcefulness out consume it amongst a spoon. (Good thing, since you’ll need i to scoop upwardly all the lovely juice this creates.) You volition also live treated to: BONE MARROW! YES!! Eat the marrow! Beef shanks give us ii epicurean delights inward one! Connective tissue too rich, buttery marrow. To live honest, I couldn’t discovery a skillful index for the nutritional properties of os marrow, but centuries of European gastronomy can’t live wrong. This materials is a delicacy. It's buttery, smooth, too delicious. (There’s a argue why nosotros receive got the phrase, “Suck the marrow out of life.”)

For those of yous totally unfamiliar amongst beef shanks, this is what i looks like (raw). The roundish white matter at the left is the bone. The pinkish materials within the os is the marrow. (It turns gray/brown when cooked.) And all the white materials running through the meat that yous think is obese marbling? Most of it is not fat, but rather, it’s connective tissue – materials that is really good for us, but makes this cutting hard to consume unless cooked low & slow. 
Here’s a bunch of ways to modify this recipe/guide:
  • Double it! If you're gonna brand a dish similar this that yous simply throw into the tardily cooker, yous mightiness equally good brand a big batch too receive got it lastly a few days. Use 3-4 pounds of beef shanks too add together some other tin forcefulness out of tomatoes.
  • Use veal or lamb shanks instead of beef. They’re simply a fiddling smaller, usually. (In fact, lamb shanks are typically used inward the most classic recipe for meat shanks, osso bucco.)
  • No carrots? No celery? No problem! Maybe yous receive got a cabbage that’s gonna cash inward one's chips if yous don’t do something amongst it soon. (I would solely role greenish though, non purple. Napa too savoy varieties would also live fine.) Chop it upwardly too lay it at the bottom of the crockpot.
  • Use the root vegetables I mentioned inward a higher identify instead of (or inward improver to) carrots & celery. If yous role frozen, chopped rutabaga, yous don’t fifty-fifty receive got to defrost it before yous toss it in! Adding to a greater extent than veggies (and a fiddling to a greater extent than liquid) tin forcefulness out brand this repast stretch a lot further if you’re feeding a crowd. You could in all likelihood double the amount of carrots & celery too you'd silent live golden.
  • Use other seasonings to alter the flavor profile: ditch the paprika too endeavour cumin, chili powder, too a tiny fleck of cayenne (even improve if yous role canned tomatoes that include greenish chilies); or travel Italian too role canned tomatoes amongst Italian herbs, too add together extra oregano too basil.
  • And here’s a fiddling play a joke on my mommala taught me. (Yes, that’s mommala. I’m Jewish; that’s how I recall of her when I’m talking cooking.) For stews, briskets, too other braising-type meats, she adds brewed java instead of H2O to brand the sauce/gravy! Yes! It’s delicious, adds a fiddling je-ne-sais-quoi, and the lastly production truly tastes naught similar coffee, so if yous receive got people inward your political party who don’t similar coffee, they'll never suspect it’s inward there. (Until they travel domicile too start bouncing off the walls. HA! No, simply kidding. You would solely need 1-2 cups, depending on how large a batch yous were making, too that’s for the entire recipe, which theoretically feeds several people. Or i person, for several meals.) If I were going to travel the java route, I’d in all likelihood steer clear of the Italian or Mexican seasoning. (But do maintain the tomatoes.) (Also: what are yous doing hanging out amongst people who don't like coffee? Find improve friends! [Just kidding. Not really.])
  • Toss inward whatever else yous desire to teach rid of: how nearly that lastly one-half drinking glass worth of blood-red vino from the bottle yous opened a calendar week ago? Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 splash of balsamic vinegar? It's all good!
My photography skills (or lack thereof, really) too my servingware don’t do this justice. 
It’s delicious, I assure you, too the perfect matter for a wintertime night’s supper
For a recipe, this post service getting awfully long. But before I go, allow me part a fiddling to a greater extent than of the culinary magic that is tardily cooked beef shanks. When the cooking fourth dimension is up, if yous follow the same strategy I outlined inward this post, you’ll live left amongst a fiddling fleck of skillful ol’ beef tallow! The treasured cooking obese of yesteryear. (What is the strategy? In a nutshell, role a slotted spoon to take the meat & veg to a carve upwardly container. [Glass or porcelain, please. Do not laid burning hot nutrient into plastic. BPA-free or not, heat-safe or not, it simply gives me the willies, know what I mean?] Pour the liquid into some other container [again, drinking glass please] too popular it inward the refrigerator for a few hours. [If your refrigerator has plenty room, yous tin forcefulness out simply stick the whole tardily cooker container inward in that place too non bother amongst something separate.] When it cools too hardens, the obese volition ascension to the top too solidify to the indicate where yous tin forcefulness out scrape it off too store it inward a container inward the refrigerator or freezer [plastic is fine here, since the tallow is cold], too role it for cooking simply nearly anything.)

But here’s the REAL bang for your buck amongst beef shanks: GELATIN! Gelatin, gelatin, gelatin! If yous follow the steps inward a higher identify too allow the liquid to cool inward the fridge, you’ll notice that it’s non so liquidy anymore. It’s jelled! (Gelled?) That, my friends, is the alchemy that happens from tardily cooking a cutting of meat loaded amongst collagen too connecter tissue that is otherwise almost impossible to chew. Ask whatever adult woman amongst brittle fingernails who’s tried every remedy inward the book: a tried-and-true agency to strengthen nails too pilus (besides the vitamin biotin) is gelatin. Gelatin comes from all those gnarly bits I mentioned at the start of this post: the skin, bones, hooves, joints, too other odds & ends nosotros usually toss aside similar so much rubbish. And next the homeopathic regulation of “like curing like,” eating things that come upwardly from the bones, skin, joints, too other connecter bits of animals is real skillful for the wellness of our bones, skin, joints, too connecter bits. (So halt buying skinless chicken, wouldja?! Eat the skin! It’s got some obese inward it, but it’s also protein—all those peachy amino acids nosotros need for our own skin. Plus, hello, it’s delicious! Don’t yous dare toss away the crispy pare of your adjacent roast chicken, too especially not adjacent year's Thanksgiving turkey. It’s practically the best part! You should live fighting relatives for it too giving Aunt Ida a bloody olfactory organ to teach her share, too.)

Note: don't worry nearly the semi-solid, jelled dry soil of your sauce. It'll re-liquify completely when reheated.

I’ll write a detailed post service sometime nearly the wellness & nutritional benefits of gelatin, but inward the meantime, here's a fantastic excerpt from an article yesteryear low-carb cookbook writer Dana Carpender:

You know how, over the yesteryear century or so, we've skewed our obese acid intake yesteryear eating less beast obese too to a greater extent than vegetable oils, so that we're getting agency too many omega-6 obese acids too non plenty omega-3s, too many unsaturates too non plenty saturates? In just the same way, nosotros receive got been skewing our residue of amino acids, the edifice blocks of protein. Gelatin-rich foods, from os broths to caput cheese to foods similar pig's feet too ox tails, were a large business office of a traditional diet. Our ancestors relished every business office of the animal, too simply equally they ate organ meats that most modern Americans right away spurn, they also ate all the gelatin-rich bony too cartilaginous bits of the animal. In this modern era of musculus meat too fiddling but musculus meat -- recall boneless skinless chicken thorax -- much of this gelatin has vanished from the diet, but our bodies' need for it has not.

The same tin forcefulness out live said for what I referred to inward the caption on the 2nd photograph above: connective tissue.I know that phrase is scary when used inward conjunction amongst something I'm encouraging yous to eat, but don't live intimidated. This is exactly the argue why nosotros need to teach dorsum to eating these under-appreciated cuts of meat. In the same agency that we've thrown off our obese acid balance, we've thrown off our amino acid balance,
The funky clearish materials that looks
like obese is, inward fact, the awesomely
delectable connecter stuff.
and this could good live contributing to a host of modern wellness woes. And aside from the gelatin that makes upwardly the sauce/gravy/liquid portion of the goldmines-in-a-crockpot that are beef shanks, you'll also teach tons of collagen, tendons, too other connecter bits. (This is the materials that yous think is fat, too thus in all likelihood cutting off of your meat, but I tin forcefulness out assure yous it's non fat. [If it was, it would melt out too solidify at the top amongst the tallow, but it doesn't.] You mightiness also recall of it equally “gristle,” because unremarkably yous cannot chew it. But later on a whirl inward the ol’ tardily cooker, this materials becomes super soft too completely, joyously, delectably edible. (The texture is a fiddling rubbery, but totally chewable too it is so skillful for us, yet so woefully absent from our modern diets.)

Shank bones: circes of calcium & other 
mineral goodness just waiting to give 
their all in your stockpot.
One to a greater extent than thing:  Beef shanks are similar the Energizer bunny: they simply maintain going too going. Besides giving us an insanely delicious one-pot repast and os marrow, beef shanks also provide us amongst the bones the marrow came in. Please don’t throw them away. Once yous take them from the meat (they’ll sideslip correct out amongst absolutely naught on ‘em because the meat is so incredibly soft), stick them inward a zip-top pocketbook too popular ‘em inward the freezer, where you’ll add together to a greater extent than bones hither too there, until yous receive got plenty to brand stock. Real stock, non the canned materials that’s MSG, salt, too caramel color masquerading equally stock. (More on this inward the future, along amongst detailed information on simply why gelatin is such a large deal. Sneak peek: They don’t telephone telephone chicken soup [made amongst real stock, not bullion or canned crapola] “Jewish penicillin” for nothing.)

So right away there’s naught left for yous to do but travel to the market, pick upwardly some beef, lamb, or veal shanks too some vegetables, too GET COOKING!  In hereafter posts, I'll convey yous to a greater extent than cooking tips to accept payoff of other under-appreciated too underutilized cuts. (Even the scary stuff, similar liver, heart, too gizzards! [YIKES!] I haven't tried my manus yet at tripe, but I'm willing to give it a shot! I've heard horror stories nearly kidneys, though.)

Do yous receive got whatever favorite organ meat recipes? Share them inward the comments. I need all the aid I tin forcefulness out get!

And live sure as shooting to banking concern check out the other posts inward the "Awesome Cuts" Series:
P.S. I tin forcefulness out sympathize non having celery on hand, but yous should pretty much always receive got onions too carrots. They’re pretty hardy too lastly a spell if stored properly. (Even when simply tossed casually into my fridge’s create drawer, they tend to lastly a long time.) Canned tomatoes are also cardinal to receive got inward the pantry at all times. They’re so versatile too brand last-minute meals truly easy. Stock upwardly when they’re on sale (sometimes fifty-fifty 10 for $10 at my local supermarket…can’t shell that!). Keep a diverseness on manus too you’ll ever live able to throw something decent together inward a pinch. Think stewed, diced, whole, crushed, addition the dissimilar seasonings I mentioned earlier—Italian herbs, greenish chilies, spicy, etc. Chef Michael Symon’s novel book includes a listing of pantry must-haves for the domicile prepare that volition ensure fifty-fifty the novices tin forcefulness out prepare real meals inward minutes. Canned tomatoes too onions are on there!

P.P.S. As amongst all cuts of beef, the shanks are loaded amongst nutrients. No, I’m non kidding. Vegetables too fruits do NOT have a monopoly on vitamins too minerals. Scroll downward inward the link too banking concern check out the B12, B6, B3, selenium, iron, too zinc. And those numbers are for simply 3oz of meat—less than you’d in all likelihood consume inward a typical serving, so you’d probable teach even more for a dinner-sized portion. This is way more delicious than whatever ol' vitamin pills!

Remember: Amy Berger, M.S., NTP, is non a doctor too , LLC, is non a medical practice. The data contained on this site is non intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or forestall whatever medical condition.

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Awesome Cuts of Meat You're (Probably) NOT Eating: Beef Shanks!
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