November 08, 2021
Venison shanks are, unfortunately, one of the elements of a recovered animal often left to the coyotes. They are cumbersome to work with, full of tendons, and not a significant source of meat (compared to the rest of the animal). However, shanks are packed full of flavor and not that tricky to utilize in the kitchen.
This venison shanks recipe is fairly quick to whip together. After the shanks are braised, the pockets only take 30 minutes or so to prep and cook.
The pockets are also phenomenal when made with squirrel, rabbit, or goose legs. Just skin and cook them whole exactly like you would the shanks.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 6 to 8 hours
The ingredient measurements are flexible. Add more or less to suit your taste buds.
- Venison shanks
- Sesame oil
- Red wine (enough to cover half of the shanks)
- Stock* (enough to cover half of the shanks)
- 1 small onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 bay leaves
*Note: I used beef stock, but any flavor stock will work.
You can fill your venison pockets with whatever ingredients you like. Below is a list of what I used.
- This recipe starts with breaking down the venison shanks in a slow cooker or dutch oven. Odds are, if you break down four shanks as I did, you will have a lot of extra meat that can be frozen and saved for another meal. To start the braising process, you need the shanks to be fully thawed and dry. I do this on a drying rack in the fridge to keep good air circulation around the meat and prevent any liquids that drip off from touching the shanks as they thaw/dry.
- Once your shanks are thawed and dry, heat up some sesame oil in a cast-iron skillet. You'll need one large enough to work with the shanks. Brown the venison shanks in the oil. I like sesame oil because it has a super high smoke point compared to most other oils and adds a nice fragrance and flavor to the shanks.
- Once the venison shanks are browned, add them to the slow cooker.
- On top of the shanks, add some fresh ground black pepper.
- Cover the shanks with red wine and stock and then cover the slow cooker with its lid. If you are starting this meal before you head for work in the morning, set the slow cooker to low and let them cook all day. If you are wanting to eat in a few hours, set the slow cooker to high.
- Pull tender venison shanks from the slow cooker when the meat pulls easily from the bone. Let the shanks cool a bit before shredding the meat.
- About 30 minutes before you want to eat, preheat the oven according to the puff pastry package instructions.
- Meanwhile, dice up your vegetables and shred the cheese. Set aside.
- Cut up the puff pastry sheets into squares of your desired size. I cut each pastry sheet into 4 small pieces so I can make up a bunch of different flavor combinations.
- Lay out a piece of the puff pastry sheet, load it with plenty of venison, vegetables, and cheese. Add a splash of your favorite BBQ sauce, cover with another puff pastry sheet, and pinch the pocket shut. I recommend keeping the vegetables on the light side. If you add too many, you run the risk of the pocket getting too wet as they cook and the pockets will become soggy.
- Repeat step 10 until all venison shank pockets are assembled.
- When your pockets are finished, put them in the oven and cook until golden brown. Mine took a few minutes longer than the puff pastry cooking directions.
- Pair your venison shank pockets with a hearty brown ale, a side of extra BBQ sauce, and dig in! If you are better at planning ahead and have time, adding some horseradish coleslaw as a side would be outstanding!
This Venison Shank Pockets Recipe is courtesy of Chris Whonsetler (fromfield-totable.com) and Outdoor Edge. For more delicious recipes, visit the “Wild Game Wednesday” blog on the Outdoor Edge website.