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Beef Shank Substitute - 5 Best Substitutes from the Pros

Mehgan Zheng
beef shank steaks on a grill to show an ideal beef shank substitute

Beef shank is a delicious and versatile beef cut that is often used to make a wide range of hearty dishes. However, what do you do if you can't get beef shank? Well, worry not! In this article, we have you covered with the best beef shank substitutes.

There are several substitutes that you can use. In this article, we will discuss the top 5 beef shank substitutes. It would be wise to better understand beef cuts in general, so take a look at this definitive guide to beef cuts.

What Is Beef Shank?

A beef shank is a tough cut of meat from the lower leg of a cow. It's a relatively cheap portion containing a lot of connective tissue. This makes it tough and chewy. However, it becomes tender and tasty when you cook it low and slow.
Most people often use it in stews, soups, and braises. Regarding the preparation, the beef shank is a versatile cut.

Top 5 Beef Shank Substitute Options

Chuck Roast

This is the top substitute for the beef shank. This popular cut is from the shoulder of the cow. It is a large and tough steak that requires slow cooking to make it tender.

It comprises several connective tissues and muscles that are heavily exercised as they are used in walking. This unique composition makes it flavorful but less tender. It is also more affordable than the beef shank.

Brisket

Another great beef shank substitute is brisket. This cut is from the lower chest or breast of the cow. It is a large, tough cut that benefits from slow cooking to bring out the flavor in its fullness. While beef shank is a tough piece, brisket is more tender. This makes it simple to cook and more flavorful.

man holding raw brisket

The brisket is often used in barbecue dishes like sandwiches and smoked brisket. Regarding the flavor, brisket has a rich and beefy taste. If you choose your seasoning carefully, it really is the perfect meal. If you're not sure where to start, just know that you can't go wrong with these Bougie BBQ Open Fire Seasonings!

The brisket's tender and juicy meat can absorb the braising liquid's flavors, resulting in a flavorful meal. Additionally, you can use brisket in stews, chili, and other slow-cooked dishes that typically call for the beef shank. The essential trick to working with brisket is to ensure you are using the best cutting board for brisket.

Short Ribs

Short ribs are your ideal choice if you are looking for a beef shank substitute that works best with slow cooking and braising. Like beef shank, short ribs are a tough cut that requires a long cooking time to become tender and flavorful.
Using short ribs in place of beef shank boasts an advantage in their savory taste. Furthermore, short ribs contain a higher proportion of fats.

Like all the other beef shank substitutes in this list, short ribs can be used in various dishes that traditionally call for the beef shank, including stews, soups, and braises. You can also grill or smoke. The best part is that you can easily remove the bones from meat and use it in various dishes such as tacos or sandwiches.

Short ribs prove to be easier to work with than beef shank, which can be tricky to prepare and cook properly. You'll still need to utilize a proper cutting board, which can be dangerous if you aren't preparing it properly between preps. If you're not sure what we mean, be sure to read up on how to properly season a cutting board to prevent cross-contamination and spread of bacteria.

Skirt steak

Skirt steak is yet another viable alternative to beef shank. Like the other options listed here, skirt steak is quite comparable to beef shank in terms of leanness and cooking requirements.If we are to compare it to beef shank, this beef shank alternative is more tender and tasty.

Skirt steak is a versatile meat that you can grill or sear. You can also slice it thinly and use it to make salads or sandwiches. Skirt steak is a feature of cuisine across the world. As such, there are a variety of global seasonings that can bring out an exotic flavor in this rich meat.

Oxtail

Oxtail is a beef cut from the tail of cattle. Now before you start thinking "why would anyone want to eat a tail?" hear me out. By the tail, we are not referring to the end that is hanging in the animal’s rear. Back in the day, people referred to this cut as "oxtail" because the term "ox" denoted a castrated male cow that people used for work and later slaughtered for meat. Nowadays, when we say oxtail, we refer to the tail of all cattle.

cooked oxtail with rice and vegetables

Oxtail is a leaner cut. As such, it needs a longer cooking time to bring out the desired flavor and tendernes

The only downside to substituting oxtail for beef shank is the high cost of oxtail. It is considered highly nutritious and a delicacy in some cultures, and the price tag tends to be quite high compared to beef shank. It is also harder to find at butcheries, as it’s not very popular in American cuisine.

When using oxtail as a substitute for beef shank, you can braise or slow-cook it with vegetables, herbs, and wine to create a delicious and flavorful meal. It's also an excellent choice for making beef stock or bone broth.

While these are the top beef shank substitutes, you can use many other options. If you want to discover the different cuts you can use, be sure to read our article on the most common cuts of beef.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use beef shank substitutes in any recipe that calls for beef shank?

Yes, you can use these beef shank substitutes for almost any recipe that uses beef shank. However, remember that these substitutes may differ regarding tenderness, flavor, or texture. As such, always cook it well to bring out the desired flavor and tenderness.

What is a beef shank called in the store?

Different butchers and stores may have different names for beef shank. Some call it "leg boil," while others may label it as "shank meat." If the name used still confuses you, be sure to ask for help.

If you expect many guests, check out this article on how much is half a cow

What are the different types of shanks meat?

You may be aware of beef shank as a beef cut. However, did you know there are also lamb and pork shanks? This is the same cut but from different animals. They are full of connective tissues and often require slow cooking.

Conclusion

To wrap it up, there are several substitutes for beef shank that you can use in your recipes. The top 5 choices are chuck roast, brisket, short ribs, skirt steak, and oxtail. While these options may all be different, they will help you create a tasty meal without anybody noticing that you used a substitute.

To that end, do not be afraid to try out new options. You may end up liking any of these substitutes more than the beef shank.

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