Southwest Venison Shanks Recipe

Southwest Venison Shanks Recipe

Most shanks used to wind up the grind pile, or worse, the trash. But more hunters have started figuring out how damn good these cuts are if you take the time to cook them right.

This  southwest style preparation will turn some heads. It’s the kind of dish you’ll want to serve for a special occasion or when you’re trying to impress. The citrus and smokey peppers compliment the rich flavor of the shank—I guarantee you’ll never grind a shank again.

Serving size


Time to make

5 hours


1 venison shank, whole

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup olive or canola oil for browning

3.5-7 oz of chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, depending on spice preference.

1 Anaheim chili pepper

1 pasilla pepper

1 large white sweet onion

1 large slicing tomato

2 cups orange juice

1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. paprika

1 tbsp. brown sugar

2 cups polenta or grits

4 oz. queso fresco crumbling cheese

Cilantro leaves for garnish


  1. Preheat smoker grill to 400 degrees (for smoking peppers). Preheat oven to 275 degrees (for braising).
  2. Cut the Anaheim and pasilla peppers lengthwise so they lay flat on the smoker grill. Slice onion and tomato into rounds. Once the grill is up to temperature, lay vegetables flat and smoke for 5 to 8 minutes, or until edges are charred.
  3. As vegetables smoke, salt and pepper the shank on a plate. Place seasoned shank in a bag with flour and toss to coat.
  4. Heat a 1/4 cup olive or canola oil in a 12-inch cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, brown floured shank on all sides, roughly 1 to 2 minutes per side. Be sure the meat is lightly browned before flipping. Once both larger flat sides are browned, use a set of strong tongs to hold the shank upright on the two narrow sides to brown.
  5. Once all sides of the shank are golden brown, remove from skillet and place on a large plate.
  6. Once vegetables have slight char marks on them and are slightly dry on edges, remove them from the smoker.
  7. Stir cinnamon, brown sugar, and paprika into the hot skillet. Add smoked vegetables and a half or full can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, depending on your spice preferences. Cook on medium-high heat for about a minute, then deglaze skillet with orange juice.
  8. Nestle the shank into the vegetables and liquid. Cover the skillet tightly with tinfoil, and place in oven at 275 degrees for 4 hours, or until meat is fork tender.
  9. Remove the pan from oven and place shank on a cutting board to cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred meat into rough chunks, and then return it back into pan with braising liquid to reabsorb some of the sauce.
  10. Serve over polenta or grits, spoon remaining sauce over meat, and garnish with crumbled queso fresco and cilantro.