How To Unlock The Delicious Potential Of Shank Steak Marrow

If you've ever had the pleasure of experiencing a meal of properly cooked beef shanks, you'll know that they are substantial pieces of meat. Cut from a section of the cow's leg, the meat of a beef shank is incredibly tough, filled with sinew and cartilage. Being cross cut directly from the leg also means that the shank comes with part of the leg bone, within which is a glorious substance: bone marrow. High in fat (aka flavor) and protein, marrow is the pasty, pinkish substance that fills the central cavity of the bone. It has a variety of uses across multiple cuisines and is prized for its flavor and nutrient density. Marrow is also a key ingredient in bone broth. 

The bone marrow in beef shanks is no different than the marrow found elsewhere on the cow. However, its uses are a little different as it is served as part of the whole cut. On the other hand, leg bones, for instance, are halved and roasted to procure the marrow. You could go through the effort of cutting away the meat, but why would you want to? Unlocking the delicious potential of shank steak marrow is as easy as following the most tried and true method for cooking this notoriously tough cut: braising. 

Marrow adds texture and flavor to braises

You can't cook a beef shank the way you can other steaks. Keeping it over high, direct heat will toughen it up and make it practically inedible. Shanks need time and low temperatures for all that marrow and connective tissue to break down. Braising, that wonderful liquid-based stovetop or slow-cook method, works wonders on the meat and the marrow and will give you something ultra tender that falls off (what's left of) the bone. 

While the marrow cooks in the braising liquid, it will render some of its fat, giving the sauce a shiny appearance and lush texture. The flavor of the marrow will be wonderfully savory, picking up notes of the meat and braising liquid. As the marrow renders into the reducing sauce, it will flavor the meat; it's a mutually beneficial alliance. 

You can mix the marrow in with the rest of the meat from the braise or scoop it out with a fork and eat it by itself as a little treat. It will have rendered down significantly, thereby concentrating its flavor into the leftover marrow. You can experiment with your braising recipes or stick with some well-established ones like osso buco. Regardless, the flavor will be unbelievable.