There should be a death penalty in place for anyone convicted of discarding or boning out the shanks of big game animals. I’m talking about the sinewy and gristly shin bone region that sits between the knee and ankle on deer, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, antelope, caribou, mountain goat, Dahl sheep, etc. This, rather than your backstraps and back hams, is the true region of wild game culinary delight. To prepare it, you need to do like the Italians and turn it into osso bucco (literally bone with a hole). Here’s how:
Cut the shin bone, meat and all (it’s easier if its frozen or slightly frozen) with a butcher’s saw or band saw into discs that are about an inch-and-a-half thick.
Serving sizes vary; a person might eat two or three pieces of antelope shank, but one disc of moose shank could feed two people. So let’s say we’re doing deer shank, and we’ll figure one piece of shank about 3” across for each person.
So for a dinner for four, take four pieces of deer shank and dredge the pieces in seasoned floor and brown them well in a heavy Dutch oven or heavy pot. When done, remove the meat and saute 2 medium diced onions, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 2 sliced carrots, and a couple stalks of celery for about five minutes. Then add in a tablespoon of tomato paste and a can stewed tomatoes or several fresh stewed tomatoes. Sprinkle in some salt, pepper, crumbled sage, a pinch of thyme, some parsley, and whatever other herbs you think would be good. Put the shanks back in the pot, laying them in a single layer. Pour in just enough water or stock (I prefer game stock, but you can use beef stock) to just barely cover them up. Cover the pot and put it in your oven at 275 degrees. Don’t even think about eating it until it’s been in there 4 or 5 hours. When it’s done, and fork tender, serve the meat and broth over polenta with a dusting of fresh minced parsley. Don’t forget to pick the marrow out of the bone’s center. You won’t be displeased.
Matt Moisan handles the shank of a moose like the frets on a fine guitar. That’s my kind of music!