Pulled Beef Shank BBQ

We're not pulling your leg, we're on a mission to find new uses for the often overlooked beef shank.  They are a great way to feed a lot of folks good food without a ton of expense or effort.  They're also really tasty.  I made this recipe on a day when our schedule was jam packed and it was an easy way to have an enjoyable dinner with minimal kitchen effort.

Beef shanks are wonderful when you take the time to do them right.  This recipe is a simple way to use this flavorful, nutritious, and budget-friendly cut of beef.  As a bonus it will leave you with at least a quart of flavorful beef stock to put in the freezer or use with other meals later in the week.

Ingredients: Approx 2 1/2 to 3 pounds Quarry Brook Farms Beef Shanks, thawed
                  1 TBS apple cider vinegar
                  Approx 1 to 2 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce (or use the provided recipe if you have time)
                  Rolls of your choice (can also be served on a bed of greens if you are eschewing bread/grains)

Servings: About 8

1) Place shanks in crock pot and add water until shanks are just covered. Add 1 TBS of apple cider vinegar to water to help draw minerals and nutrients out of the bones while everything simmers. 
2) Turn crock pot on low and allow to cook for at least 6 hours or until meat will come away from bone readily.  This can take a varying amount of time depending on your crock pot.
3) Once meat will separate from bone readily, carefully remove shanks from crock pot and place in a bowl to cool. 
4) Carefully ladle the remaining broth into storage containers, label and place in refrigerator or freezer to use for other meals.  You just made quick broth in addition to being on your way to delicious BBQ.  Bonus broth!
5) Once shanks are cool enough to handle, remove meat from bones and use knife or fingers to pull meat apart into small pieces.  Place small pieces back into crock pot.  There will be some fatty, sorta "slimey" bits (can I use the word slimey in a recipe?!?!).  I chop them up and put them in with the meat.  They are a good source of collagen and omega-3 rich grass fed fats. Their texture isn't such a concern once everything is blended together with the BBQ sauce.  *Do be careful to make sure no little bone or tendon pieces end up in the final product though.  Some shanks could have those but they are easy to feel and/or spot as you work as long as you're paying attention. 
6) Add your favorite BBQ sauce to the meat in the crock pot until you are happy with the consistency.  You can also use a little bit of the broth if you would like the beef to be even more juicy. 
7) Turn crock pot back onto low.  Cover and allow to cook together for at least another 30 minutes until all the flavors are mingled and the BBQ is well warmed again. 
8) Serve with rolls and a big summer salad. 

BBQ Sauce Recipe:
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup vinegar or red wine
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 tsp salt
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons finely chopped onion
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Combine everything in a sauce pan and whisk together over high heat.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered for 30 minutes or until desired thickness is achieved.  Makes 1 to 2 cups depending on how long you allow it to thicken.

Feel free to experiment with your sauce.  Add honey, more hot sauce, liquid smoke (Wrights brand is additive free), maple syrup, etc, until you find the combo that you love best.

Sunny with a chance of meatballs

I think we might have stumbled onto the perfect summer food.  

I think it might be meatballs...
I'm laughing at myself as I type this but we truly are on a meatball kick in our household.  It all started with the kiddo requesting them for dinner a few nights in a row.  He had just eaten them at Grammie's house and was smitten.

I'd never made meatballs.  I didn't know how to make meatballs except that I knew 'squishing' meat with my hands was part of it.  Not my favorite....

Alas, the kiddo was persistent (and cute) so I caved.  And I'm glad I did. Turns out the squishing isn't that bad and meatballs are awesome for a bunch of reasons. Here are a few:

  • Ingredients can vary depending on what is available.  You can TOTALLY wing it with meatballs and still have something yummy. That's how I made this recipe and it was love at first taste.
  • They are a budget friendly way to get the nutrition from grass fed meats into your family’s diet. 
  • It's easy to incorporate fresh, seasonal veggies or herbs.  If your kiddos balk at veggies but love their meat, you can hide "green things" in the meatballs and feel good knowing they are eating some veggies. 
  • They cook quickly but also freeze or hold in the fridge well.  So you can make up a big batch when you have time and then use them later when time is short.  We've been doing this a lot.
  • You can do about a bazillion things with them: Sandwiches, subs, slice them onto salads, put them on a stick and dip them in sauce, serve them with pasta and marinara, eat them cold with lunch, eat them with your fingers, take them camping.  I'd love to hear your ideas here!

Ok.  So here is the recipe we make up a few weeks ago and we can't get enough of it.  I've made it with our ground beef and ground lamb and find it works equally well with both. I decided to do a spin on Greek Meatballs and use fresh oregano and mint because they were both coming up in our garden.  You can substitute dried but the fresh are worth finding.  You can get them from us or most any other local farmer.

Serves 4.  Prep time: 7 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes

Meatball ingredients:

1 pound Quarry Brook grass fed ground beef or lamb, thawed (you can use a bowl of warm water to thaw a package in a hurry if needed, just submerge meat in water and change it a few times until meat is soft)

1 small onion or shallot, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced very fine (or use garlic press)

2-3 sprigs fresh mint, chopped fine (about 2 tablespoons once chopped) or 2 teaspoons dried

1-2 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped fine (about 1 tablespoon once chopped) or 1 teaspoon dried

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 egg

¾ cup bread crumbs (substitute same amount cooked quinoa if prefer gluten free)

Dipping sauce ingredients:

1 cup organic mayonnaise or plain yogurt

2 sprigs fresh mint (or more if you really like it)

1 tablespoon lemon juice



Place all meatball ingredients into large bowl.  'Squish' together until mixed well.

Roll mixture into balls using your hands.  I use a Tablespoon size measuring spoon as a scoop if I’m having a hard time getting them to be a consistent size.

Place meatballs in lightly greased skillet (I use butter) over medium high heat.  Allow to brown for about 3 minutes.

Use fork or tongs to rotate meatballs so they cook evenly.  Rotate 3 or 4 times over the course of about 15 minutes until they are cooked through and no longer pink inside.

 Prepare dipping sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients with a fork or whisk in a small bowl. 

Serve meatballs with a side of dipping sauce.  They are great paired with a big salad because you can use the dipping sauce for dipping the salad greens too. You’ll need to double the dipping sauce recipe if you decide to do this. 

Meatballs and a huge salad have been our dinner a lot lately.  We have some pretty big appetites in our house and it has been nice to find such a simple, healthy, and budget-friendly way to get all the farmers fed. 

Enjoy and if you try this recipe let us know how it went over in your house.  :)