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braised venison shank recipe

Austrian Braised Venison Shanks with Sauerkraut

]I cooked this dish with a large shank from a big Ohio whitetail buck that my friend Joe brought home. For whatever reason, his butcher sliced the shank bones -- maybe for ossobucco. I like the effect, because it looks cool on the platter and it opens up the bones to the marrow, which you can easily scoop out and add to the sauerkraut mixture (Yes, it's delicious. Trust me on this one). No venison shanks? Do this with pork shanks, even smoked pork shanks -- but if you do, skip the bacon and use lard or butter instead. Osso bucco cuts from beef or veal would work, too.
Course Main Course
Cuisine German
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 4 hours
Serves 4 people
Author Hank Shaw

Ingredients

  • 1 large elk shank, or up to 4 venison shanks
  • 2 tablespoons squash seed oil or sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder, or 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
  • Salt
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely shredded potato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon caraway
  • 1 12- to 16-ounce bottle hefeweizen beer
  • 1 cup stock (any kind)
  • Black pepper and chopped chives for garnish

Instructions

  1. Massage the venison shanks with the squash seed oil, then with the caraway, garlic and enough salt to season the meat well. At the very least set this on the counter for 1 hour to come to room temperature, but the seasonings penetrate better if you leave this covered in the fridge overnight. Regardless, when you are ready to cook the shank, preheat the oven to a full 475°F and let the shank come to room temperature while the oven heats. Set the shank or shanks on a rack in a roasting pan and blast them in the oven until nicely browned, about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside for now.
  2. While the oven is heating, cook the bacon in a large pot or Dutch oven (it needs to be able to fit the shank) over medium-low heat until it's crispy. Remove, chop ans set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pot and saute in the bacon fat over medium-high heat until it begins to brown on the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the sauerkraut and shredded potato and mix well. Saute this for a minute or two, then pour in the beer and stock. Mix in the reserved bacon, the bay leaf, thyme, caraway and a healthy pinch of salt. Bring this to a simmer.
  4. When the venison is ready -- out of the hot oven -- nestle the shanks into the pot, cover it and cook until done. You can do this in two ways: On the stovetop over low heat, or in a 300°F oven. Either way it should take about 3 hours, or a little longer if you are dealing with an old deer.
  5. You can serve this in one of two ways: As a centerpiece, where everyone pulls of pieces of shank at the table, or you can strip the meat from the bones and serve it on top of a bed of kraut. Don't forget the marrow in the bones! Scoop it out with a spoon and stir it into the kraut for extra flavor. Add black pepper and chives right before you serve.

Serve this with good bread, like a German pumpernickel or a Jewish rye. And even though this is a red-meat dish, I like an Austrian white wine here. German beer is another good alternative, such as a weizenbock or if the weather's a little warmer, the same hefeweizen you used in the pot.