What Is A Thor's Hammer Steak And What's The Best Way To Eat It?

Aptly nicknamed, Thor's Hammer steaks are cut from a gargantuan chunk of beef that, when trimmed — or frenched on the bone — bears an uncanny resemblance to the weapon Thor, the mythological Norse god of thunder, used to fend off the forces of chaos. Officially known as a bone-in beef shank, a whole Thor's Hammer weighs in at about seven to eight pounds. Carved from the top portion of a cow's leg, the lean and muscular cut of beef is favored by pitmasters and barbecue aficionados who favor a low-and-slow approach to cooking.

Although they can be difficult to find in mainstream supermarkets, Thor's Hammer steaks are just what you would expect — individual steaks that are cross-cut from a whole Thor's Hammer. Perhaps more familiar as the primary ingredient in osso buco, Thor's Hammer steaks bear little resemblance to the mythological weapon that gives the whole shank — or primal cut — its nickname, but the individual portions the retain same qualities (lean and tough), making them better suited for slow-cooking or braising than grilling.

How to cook Thor's Hammer steak

As tempting as it may be, it's never a good idea to toss a Thor's Hammer steak (aka cross-cut shank steak) on the grill. It might look like a nicely marbled cut of beef, but what appears to be marbling at first glance, is actually the sinewy connective tissue that makes it one of the toughest cuts of meat on the market. But make no mistake, a cross-cut shank steak is no throw-away cut of beef. In fact, when cooked correctly, it's melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

For the best results, stick to recipes that call for a long, slow cooking process. Braising, or any method that employs moist heat, is ideal. It's time-consuming to be sure, but the actual prep is quick and easy. In addition to the aforementioned osso buco, Thor's Hammer steak, or cross-cut shank steak, is also a common ingredient in French beef Bourguignon, a slow-cooked beef and vegetable stew flavored with red wine from Burgundy. In Asia, beef shank forms the basis for Sataejjim, a slow-cooked Korean dish, in which the shank steak along with root vegetables is simmered in a soy-based sauce flavored with rice wine and apricot preserves. So, although Thor's Hammer steak might be tough to find in your local market, you certainly have recipes to try if you can find this colossal cut of meat.