Jess PrylesTender, smokey and rich, the shank or shin is one of the most glorious cuts you can BBQ. Here’s how to achieve perfectly tender smoked beef shank.
The beauty of barbecue lies in its ability to transform unloved cuts into something tender and delectable. The long and slow cooking process allows even the toughest meats to break down into glorious piles of soft and gelatinous shreds. All the classic cuts like brisket, pork butt and clod are notoriously stubborn unless subjected to a long cook. But there are lots of great cheap alternatives to the classics that perform so well in the smoker! Beef cheeks are one of the first alternatives that come to mind. They’re like little pillows of brisket that cook in about half the time.
So, here’s the biggest thing to keep in mind: the reason brisket is the holy grail of BBQ, is thanks to the natural marbling of collagen in the muscle. That’s what gives it brisket’s unique satisfyingly gelatinous wobble. Many of the other cuts that are suited for low and slow cooking do not have the same structure, and need a little help. That’s where a two step process steps in to win the day. Smobraising – smoking, THEN braising. Simply, this process is exposing the meat to several hours of smoke flavoring, then adding it to a liquid to braise until tender.
I’ve done this with deer necks, beef cheeks, shins, and short ribs. The really cool part about the Smobraise is the ability to customize with the liquid. For purists, this may be nothing more than broth or stock of the same animal, ie beef stock for beef, deer broth for venison, etc. For the more adventurous, you can use aromatics and richly flavored liquids to enhance and boost the final dish.
I don't remember ever seeing it in the grocery before, but day before yestdy I picked up a packg of sliced beef shank. It stopped raining this morning. So I pecan smoked them for 2 hrs, quickly seared them and into the crockpot. Its been 6 hrs so far and I just added the veggies. It sure smells good. I can't wait to try it out.