Elk or venison osso bucco involves slow-cooking the animal’s shanks until perfection: the perfect statement dish that needs very little effort.
Until recently, I had never tried elk meat. Since elk is a cold-country game meat, it’s no surprise that I had never tasted it before moving to Canada. Of course, in a recipe like this you can always substitute lamb, beef or venison shanks instead of elk while following the same steps.
In a place like Canada, and especially to people who have grown up hunting and eating game meat, this is nothing unusual or special. For me, however, elk meat was a revelation. The shanks were cross-cut osso bucco style and the meat was a deep wine-red shade. The meat tasted slightly gamey, but it was also rich and extraordinarily flavourful. As the shanks of herbivores tend to be tough cuts that need slow braising to become tender, the most important ingredient of this recipe, besides the meat of course, is patience.
Elk are basically a species of deer, if you want more info check out the Wikipedia entry about them. They’re beautiful animals, with large dramatic antlers and proud faces, I would love to see a living one in nature one day.
Unlike most of my recipes on this blog, my hubby loved this dish immediately and had absolutely no trouble with it. He simply tucked in heartily. We found that it goes very well with some simple white rice and a little salad; but you can easily serve it with pasta, bread or even just with salad if you’re watching your carb intake. It’s a heavy meal and requires a long time to cook in the oven, so it’s perfect for a cold, rainy weekend day when you want a hearty meal and you aren’t really going anywhere. I would rate this experiment 9/10 for the simple reason that elk is also rather pricy, not the most affordable meat out there. Of course, if you hunt your own, you’ll get the meat for free and this won’t be a problem.
- 1 kilogram elk shanks cut osso bucco style
- 2 cups canned tomatoes
- 2 chopped large carrots
- 4 chopped large celery stalks
- 1 chopped medium sized onion
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1 small can of tomato paste (approximately 3 heaped tablespoons)
- 1 cup any available cheap red wine
- 1 large tablespoon of brown sugar
- 3-4 cups either stock or plain water, I used water because it’s lighter and the meat adds enough flavour.
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Herb mix: thyme, oregano, rosemary
- Cooking oil; I used canola oil but you can use any other you prefer.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or dutch oven (preferably an oven-proof pot of some kind with a lid)
- Fry the elk shanks until nice and brown on all sides, set aside.
- In the same pot fry the onion, celery, carrot and garlic until a little softer
- Add the herbs, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar
- Add the canned tomatoes, bring to a boil and then add the water or stock, bring to boil again for 2-3 minutes
- Add the shanks to the sauce and cover, bring to boil.
- Put it all in the oven and let it cook for 3.5-4 hours, or until the meat is so tender that it falls off the bone.
- Let cool and rest for 5 minutes at least, then serve with rice, bread, pasta or even on its own! Or you can let it cool then store it in the fridge; it tastes even better the next day! Enjoy!
So, have you ever tried making osso bucco elk shanks? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments!
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