Many people write off venison shanks as unedible cuts of meat. I’ve even met hunters who won’t even take them from the field.
For almost every other person, the go-to recipe is Osso Bucco, which there is nothing wrong with, but switch it up every once in a while.
This pulled version of shank tacos will give you a whole new take on what’s possible with venison shanks.
While they are great for impressing guests, they are just as good for a family night meal.
Venison Shank Tacos Tips
This dish is not too spicy; ancho chilis are mild compared to some other chilis. If you want to make it a little spicier, you can add more red chili pepper flakes or any other alternative.
However, I like to leave this dish a little on the mild side and load up with jalapenos when building the tacos for extra spice.
Don’t stress too much when removing the silver skin. Shanks are full of silver skin, which is why most recipes involve some form of pressure cooking or slow cooking.
What is important, though, is getting a nice sear on the outside. This helps to char up the silver skin, so it is not noticeable in the dish. You can do this on the pan if in a rush, but I find a better method is to do it on the grill.
If using a pan to sear, be sure to use a cast iron or stainless steel skillet. A nonstick pan will not be able to reach the heat required to sear a shank without damaging the pan. Also, be sure to use a high-temperature oil such as avocado or grapeseed. Olive oil cannot reach the required temperature before burning.
This recipe works for any deer species, elk, or even moose. In the video below, I’m using some roe deer while on a European hunting trip. These are about a similar size to coues deer. If using whitetails, mulies, or elk shanks, the cooking time will increase.
Also, adjust the ingredients to the ration of meat. In the recipe, I had 4 pounds of bone in venison. If, for example, you are using 4 elk shanks that are roughly 2 pounds each, then you would double the ingredients in the recipe.
- 4lbs bone-in venison shank
- 1 lb of tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
- 1 medium white onion finely sliced
- 1 tablespoon ancho chili
- 1 tablespoon chili
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 bottle Mexican beer
- 1 cup beef stock
- Avocado oil for frying
- 1/2 head medium red cabbage finely sliced
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Pickled Red Onion
- 1/2 red onion finely sliced
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Jalepno with seeds removed and sliced
- Cilantro roughly chopped
- 1 lime quartered
- Corn tortillas
- Heat the oil in a large pan over high heat. Season the venison shanks generously with kosher salt, and pepper. Add the shanks to the pan and brown all sides (5-10 minutes)
- Grate the tomatoes into a bowl discarding the skins.
- Once the shanks have a nice browning on the outside, remove them from the pan and set them in the slow cooker or crock pot. Reduce the heat for the pan and add in the onions and garlic. Fry on low heat until the onions turn translucent, maybe with slight browning.
- Add the beer to the pan and increase the heat to bring the beer to a boil. Stir the beer and scrape up the brown bits with a wooden spoon or spatula until the beer reduces by half.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add in the spices and seasonings, and further cook for another 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes.
- Pour the mixture over the shanks in the slow cooker, pour over the stock, cover, and cook until tender (Approx 1-2 hours, depending on the shanks)
- When the shanks are tender, remove them from the slow cooker and set on a wooden board.
- Pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a sauce pot and bring to a boil. Continuously stir the sauce until it reduces to a thicker consistency (approx 5-10 mins)
- Add the sugar to a bowl and pour over the red wine vinegar. Stir until dissolved.
- Add in the onions and make sure they are covered with the mixture. Set aside for 1-2 hours
Red Cabbage Slaw
- Put the sliced cabbage into a large bowl, and add the mayonnaise and sweet paprika.
- Using your hands, mix the ingredients thoroughly to ensure the paprika gets mixed out evenly.
- Set in the refrigerator until ready to serve
- Any venison shanks can be used. The only thing to adjust is the cooking time to make the shank tender. Coues deer shanks work well because they cook fast.
- I used avocado oil for this recipe, but any high-temperature oil can be used. Olive oil will not work because it does not reach the temperature for searing. Other options are grapeseed oil or sesame oil.
Rusty enjoys connecting food and nature and has done so since a child. He was fortunate enough to explore cuisine worldwide and work at great European restaurants. He now enjoys thinking up new recipes that he can find around him in nature in North America.