For most meat lovers, knowledge of beef cuts is limited to general steaks and juicy hamburgers. However, there are actually many different cuts of beef, each of which comes from a different part of the cattle!
So, if a recipe you’re making calls for beef shank, you may not actually know what part of the cow it’s from. This is a crucial piece of information you’ll need if you’re planning on substituting this kind of beef.
Best beef shank substitutes
The best substitutes for beef shank are beef arm, oxtail, chuck roast, silverside, and skirt. All of these are tougher cuts of meat, and they will hold up very well to long, slow cooking. Especially the oxtail, as it’s got a lot of marrow and a very tough muscle.
Muscles that are used daily by the cows are the ones that will provide the most flavor. But first let’s see what beef shank is, before we get to the substitutes. Who knows, maybe based on this info you’ll think of a substitute we forgot to mention ?
What is beef shank?
Beef Shank, sometimes known by its more specific names, Fore Shank and Hind Shank – is the leg section of the cow or steer. As you can imagine, this section can be quite tough and muscular, as the cattle use their legs quite often during daily activities.
That’s why beef shank is usually used in stews, osso bucco, beef bourguignon, and other dishes that are cooked slowly. In fact, sometimes you’ll find beef Shank used in beef stock and broth, since it’s quite flavorful and hearty!
We know how difficult it could be to find the time to make a delicious, hearty home cooked meal. So, if you have actually found that time in your busy schedule only to discover that your main ingredient is nowhere to be found, you may feel a bit stressed out trying to locate a suitable replacement.
Well, you don’t have to stress any longer! If you’re looking for an alternative to beef shank in your meal, look no further than these 5 awesome beef cuts that will keep you coming back for seconds, thirds, and fourths (if there’s any left over)!
Read also: Beef Brisket Substitutes
Beef arm roast
As one might imagine, this cut is from the arm of the cattle, specifically the shoulder area. Again, as the muscles in this cut are used quite frequently by the animal, the beef arm roast is pretty tough, too! This makes it great for slow cooking!
An excellent characteristic of beef arm is that, despite its lean muscle content, it also has a nice amount of fat, allowing it to be very flavorful, as well as soft when cooked low and slow.
As you probably figured out, the oxtail cut is meat taken from the tail of the cattle. Filled with beautiful, tasty fat, oxtail is actually quite expensive, so, if staying on budget is key for you, maybe skip this one. However, if you’re looking for the ultimate flavor for your slow cooked meal, oxtail is an excellent choice!
Slightly similar to the arm roast, the chuck roast is also found in the shoulder area. However, chuck also comes from the neck, which makes it slightly different!
Since the shoulders are used to move the animal, that area has some tough bits. But, the neck area is not as muscled up, which allows the chuck cut to have a nice fat content, as well! The combination of muscle and fat gives chuck its distinctive marbled texture, and a wonderfully beefy flavor when cooked slowly!
A cool name for the hindquarters, this cut of beef is similar to that of the shank and arm. Since the cattle use their hindquarters to walk, this cut ends up being quite muscular, and therefore, pretty tough.
But, don’t fear! It’s the perfect cut for slow cooking because of its toughness! Plus, there is not much fat in the silverside, so if you’re watching your fat intake, this may be the cut for you!
Skirt steak is perhaps the most versatile alternative on this list for one reason: you can slow cook it and quickly cook it! The skirt cut is taken from the plate section (right below the ribs) and is very fatty, as it is not made into muscle with the cattle’s activities.
Despite its pros, skirt steak can also be quite fickle if not prepared correctly. If it is not cut against the grain in thin strips, it could end up tough! And, if you aren’t slow cooking it and forget to char it first, it may end up dry and overdone.
Are beef shanks the same as short ribs ?
No, beef shank comes form the leg of the cattle, either from or back. The ribs can come from the brisket, chuck, plate, or ribs. Short ribs are somewhat close to shanks in terms of where the cut comes from, but short ribs will never have some meat from the shank. Unless the butcher is very sloppy and doesn’t know how to best cut the beef for maximum flavor.
If you’re wondering why it matters, it’s because each section of the animal cooks differently. Very tough meats will need lots of cooking or they will be tough. Ribs or bone-in cuts also need long cook times.
Tender meats with lots of fat marbling between the grains do well in short cook times, like a steak or a grill.
What is the tastiest cut of beef ?
The rib eyes is the tastiest cut of beef there is. It’s taken from the rib section, specifically the upper part as it will contain a bit of the back muscles as well.
This cut has all the marbling you can want, and is very lightly worked during the cattle’s life so it will never be tough. Unless you cook it for too long.
Ribeye is best for quick, hot cooking. So a steak in a screaming-hot pan is the best way to serve it.
Is beef shank good for stew ?
Yes, beef shank is amazingly good for stew. This is a low and slow kind of meat, and that’s the best way to make any stew. Be sure to give the shanks at least 3 hours from the moment they started boiling, to make sure the meat is as tender as possible.
You can use any of the substitutes above for stew as well, no just the shanks. Just keep in mind that one with the bone still in, like oxtail, may take an hour extra than shanks.
Can you slow cook any cut of beef ?
Yes, in theory any cut of beef will be great as a slowly cooked dish. The more important question is how you want the neat to be.
If you’d like it to be tender but still retain some texture then you’ll have to use a bone-in, tougher meat. Ribs work great for this, but really you ca use anything you want.
The thing with beef is that it gets tougher the more you cook it, and then it gets progressively softer and more tender. Cuts that start out tough, like the shank, always need to be slow cooked. But you ca slow-cook a tender meat too, if that’s all you have.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.