Here’s a great recipe to utilize one of the most under-utilized pieces of meat on an elk: the shank. Too often, this cut is added along with the shoulders and rump roast to make burger. The shank is a very well-worked muscle—it can be tough if not prepared with care. By braising the shank at a low temperature for a long period of time in stock, it’ll become so tender that it will fall right off the bone. At Lone Mountain Ranch, we use this recipe to create a delicious dish that is both rustic and elegant.
4 elk shanks
2 onions, halved
2 carrots, peeled and halved length-wise
2 celery ribs
4 juniper berries, crushed with the back of a knife
4 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
2 cups red wine
3 quarts beef stock (or better yet, elk stock!)
2 cups whole kamut berries soaked overnight
1 piece of parchment paper
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Season the elk shanks with salt and pepper. In a hot pan, add a small amount of canola oil. Brown the shanks on all sides, being careful not to crowd the pan. Once deeply caramelized, remove the shanks and transfer them to a deep-sided roasting pan.
Next, in the same hot pan, add the onions and carrots with the flat side facing down. After a few minutes, add the garlic. After the vegetables are browned, remove them from the pan and add them to the roasting pan. Next, add the red wine. With a wooden spoon, scrape up all of the pan drippings while the wine reduces. Next, add the herbs, two quarts of stock, celery, juniper berries, and bay leaves to the pan. Once the liquid comes to a simmer, pour it into the roasting pan. The shanks and vegetables should be almost entirely covered. Add more stock if necessary. Take your parchment paper and cut a few slits. Place it over the top of your pan and press down on top of your ingredients. The slits will act as vents during the braising process. Place the pan in your oven and cook for 6-8 hours, or until the meat easily pulls away from the bone.
When finished, strain the braising liquid and reduce on the stove for an easy and delicious sauce. Check for seasoning. Cook the kamut at a simmer in the other quart of stock until tender (about one hour). Serve the shanks over the kamut with your favorite roasted vegetables. Spoon the reduced braising liquid over the top and enjoy.
George Peirce is the executive chef at Lone Mountain Ranch.