Braised Elk Shanks, Elk Veggie Marrow Appetizers & Pulled Elk Sandwich

Although similar to 'osso buco', you will find that our elk version of shanks is much heartier and richer tasting than what could be expected if using veal. Slow cooking at low heat suits this type of cut the best. Shanks are ready after a second day of cooking. They can be served as is with vegetables of choice, or go one step further and try our 'Elk Veggie Marrow Appetizers' or 'Pulled Elk Sandwiches' as alternatives.



Ingredients

5 to 6 lbs elk shank cut into 2 to 3 inch thick sections
4 tbsp. cooking oil (peanut oil or grape seed preferred)
2 tbsp butter
2 celery stalks, coarsely diced
2 carrots scraped and coarsely diced
1 1/2 cups coarsely diced onion
1 -- 28 ounce can of diced plum tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups stock (elk, chicken, vegetable, or combination)
1 - 5 inch sprig of fresh rosemary
12 sprigs of fresh thyme
6 to 8 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 tsp salt
15 whole black peppercorns
4 whole cloves

Method

Heat 1 to 2 tbsp of cooking oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Once oil is hot and almost smoking, in batches, brown shanks on all sides.
Add more cooking oil as required.
Set browned shanks aside on a holding plate.

Over medium-high heat, melt butter in an 8 quart Dutch oven.
Add the celery, carrots, and onion.
Sauté until the vegetables begin to brown.

Blend in the plum tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, rosemary, thyme, parsley, salt, peppercorns, and cloves.

Return browned shanks to the Dutch oven.
Add more water or stock to cover shanks if necessary.

Put Dutch oven, uncovered, in a 275F oven.
Allow shanks to braise for 4 hours, stirring once or twice.
Turn off oven.
Leave the shanks in the oven for one more hour before removing.
Allow to cool to room temperature, refrigerate overnight.

The next day remove the Dutch oven from the refrigerator.
Remove the top layer of hardened fat and discard.
Cover and reheat shanks in a 250F oven for 3 1/2 hours.

Serve with vegetables of choice and a gremolata garnish if so desired.
A basic gremolata is made by combining 3 tbsp of finely chopped parsley with 1 tbsp grated lemon peel and 1 tsp of minced garlic.

Elk Veggie Marrow Appetizers

Marrow, that easily digested soft substance found in the center of the shank bones, should not be overlooked for its nutritional and taste value. Nutritionally it provides essential fat, Vitamin A, thiamin, niacin, phosphorus and iron. Taste wise marrow bones add flavor to soups, stews, and stocks.

Traditionally, cooked marrow on its own is served with toast points-spoon it on and away you go. But in this recipe, not letting anything go to waste, we are using the marrow and the strained vegetables from the shank recipe to produce a superb tasting appetizer. The only other thing you need for this one is a baguette, Vienna stick, or any other form of crusty bread stick cut into 1-inch thick slices



Method

After reheating the Braised Elk Shanks at 250F for 3 1/2 hours, instead of serving do the following for this recipe as well as our 'Pulled Elk Sandwiches' recipe.

Strain the contents of the Dutch oven through a large colander. Cool the liquid part of it, the sauce, to room temperature, then refrigerate it (overnight suggested) for later use (see Pulled Elk Sandwich below).

Separate the shank bones, meat, and fatty pieces from the remaining cooked vegetable mass in the colander.

Discard any fatty or gristly pieces, saving and refrigerating the meat pieces for later use (see Pulled Elk Sandwich below). Spoon the marrow from the shanks into a separate small heat proof bowl. Discard bones.

Go through the vegetable mass with a fork to locate and discard cloves and any pepper corns if so desired. Put the vegetable mass in another heat proof bowl. At this stage, both the bowl of marrow and the bowl of vegetable mass can be refrigerated for use later on, or the appetizer can be prepared immediately.

Put both the marrow bowl and the vegetables mass bowl in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes, or until marrow is soft and vegetable mass is heated through.

Spread some of the soft marrow on the sliced bread stick, top with some of the vegetable mass and serve immediately.

Pulled Elk Sandwiches

A fabulous sandwich idea that we find is even better than pulled pork. Pulled elk goes great with any number of condiments. The photograph shows pulled elk topped with salsa; a sandwich which also includes roasted potatoes and sautéed sweet onion and red pepper. We have also had success with caramelized red onions, diced cucumber, freshly chopped cilantro, cheese, and sliced tomato.



Ingredients

set aside sauce and meat pieces from 'Elk Veggie Marrow Appetizers'
crusty buns
condiments of choice

Method

Remove bowl of sauce from fridge. Remove and discard top fat layer from sauce. Put sauce in a saucepan, bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Stir occasionally and reduce sauce to slightly less than half its original volume. This can take up to 45 minutes.

In an oven proof dish, combine reduced sauce with previously refrigerated meat pieces. Cover and reheat in a 250F oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until meat is heated through.

Pull reheated elk meat apart with a fork. Serve on a bun with some sauce and condiments of choice.