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I bought several one-inch beef shank cross-sections from the local supermarket. It looks like concentric circles, with a inner circle of bone and an innermost circle of marrow. I put the shanks in a pot, covered it with water, and braised it for 12 hours at 200 F in the oven. At the end, the collagen had converted into gelatin, but the meat seemed quite tough and chewy.

Is it possible for beef shanks to be super tender? If so, how do you cook them that way?

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The top two answers give conflicting information, which is a shame. –  Burhan Ali Feb 12 '14 at 13:08

7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Meat, especially beef, can get chewy both if cooked too short and too long. So braising it for 12 hours has made it tough. To have beef tender, I recommend using a pressure-cooker. Season the beef, put it the cooker and distribute it evenly, add a little water/stock so that beef won't burn and cook for 2-4 hours. Cooking for less time will not make it tender enough, and cooking too long will make the meat tough.

You could also try leaving beef in seasoned vinegar or wine for some time before cooking. It will also make the meat more tender.

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Thank you for your answer. Is there a reference to support the use of vinegar or wine to tenderize meat? –  I Like to Code Feb 3 '14 at 21:58
No references, but I've tried it a few times and it works well. I learnt it from my Mom ))) –  superM Feb 4 '14 at 6:26
Two hours, never mind four, in a pressure cooker is a long time. An hour for 1" thick beef shin slices should be more than enough. –  Stefano Feb 5 '14 at 10:45
If you overcook it, the individual fibers may indeed get tough eventually, but it will still fall off the bone and obviously be overcooked, not undercooked. If it's all still hanging on to the bone just like it started out, but isn't tender, it'd definitely undercooked, not overcooked. –  Jefromi Jul 30 '14 at 14:38
Also, the pressure cooker just makes things faster. It doesn't do anything you couldn't do in a normal pot in a bit more time. –  Jefromi Jul 30 '14 at 14:39

If your beef shank is chewy, it's undercooked. Period. Whatever the amount of time is, even if it seems like a lot to you, it's not enough. Overcooking will cause meat cuts with a lot of connective tissue (like shank) to dry, and even fall apart because it is too tender. But it will not still be chewy.

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Yep, a sure sign that braised meat is overcooked is not that it's chewy but that it becomes unpleasantly stringy and dry. –  Stefano Feb 5 '14 at 10:47

Shank has great flavor, and is easy to cook well as long as you braise it. With braising the water and gentle heat breaks down the collagen, which produces flavor and good texture. First lightly coat the shanks in seasoned flour and fry until light brown. Then put in a glass of wine, a couple tablespoons of dark soy, then water until the shanks are 2/3 covered. Add a couple of bay leaves, then cover tightly and bake in the oven at about 150C(300F) for about 3-4 hours. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 45 minutes to an hour.

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1) Put it in a pressure cooker at 15 psi for 60-90 mins or 2) Cook it sous vide at 136F-140F for 24-30 hrs. I have tried doing a beef shank yet but my experiment with top round (140F for 15 hrs) was a success. While the result wasn't quite filet mignon, the meat was moist and tender with some chewiness. I expect the same with beef shank. And because the meat is covered by plastic, all its beefiness is retained within the meat. In braising, a lot of the beefy flavor goes into the liquid. In sous vide, the meat marinates it its own juices for days.

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Beef shank will get very tough if you don't cook it long enough. The best way to cook fall-off-the-bone beef shank is to boil and simmer them for at least 3 hours. I also baste them often when I use this method.

Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add the shanks and continue to cook for about 3 hours, basting the shanks often, or until the sauce is stew-like and the meat starts to fall of the bone.

Sometimes I will season them first with salt and pepper and sear them in hot oil for about 3 minutes on each side before I simmer them. This will help them to retain the juices and tenderize the meat.

You can get creative if you want with your stock. Sometimes I may add a little wine, or just use a regular beef stock. Quite often I will cover them with water and slow cook them in the crock pot overnight on the lowest setting of course.

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Generally correct, but searing does nothing to seal in juices. It does improve flavour via the Maillard Reaction however. –  ElendilTheTall Feb 3 '14 at 15:48

I would recommend flouring and browning the shanks then braising the meat in a stock and crushed tomato mix, with onions and mushrooms. Or you could google the recipe for Osso Bucco, which really rocks.

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I cooked it yesterday for the first time in a pressure cooker. The slices were about 1 inch thick and through 4 inches across.

30 minutes on high and they were perfect!

The suggestion above to pressure cook meat for more than two hours I think is pretty ridiculous.

Brown the meat, throw in some onion ^ and celery, and beef broth red wine and tomato paste, and put the lid on.

This is one of the tastiest pieces of beef I've had in a long time, and it's quite inexpensive as well.

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You say it was delicious (great), would you also characterize it as fall-off-the-bone tender? –  Jolenealaska Jan 18 at 15:49

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