One of the perks of being a wild game chef is that friends are willing to share their harvest with me in exchange for good recipes. A while back a friend shot a Pronghorn and when I heard he wasn’t planning on keeping the forearms and shanks for Osso Buco I made a plea to have them sent to me.
It’s not uncommon to hear that most hunters grind the meat from their venison shanks. There isn’t anything particularly wrong with this, however there are other options.
After making Osso Buco you will discover that the value of the shank isn’t the meat, it’s whats inside those bones that makes all the difference in the world.
This recipe is the first dish I have ever made with Pronghorn. I was surprised by how meltingly tender the meat was considering the cut and relatively short cooking time. Pronghorn isn’t quite as robust as venison, in fact it is just a little bit more mild making it the perfect choice for this Indian version of Osso Buco. If you don’t have Pronghorn you can still make this recipe using venison or lamb shanks. I have even had success using the drumsticks of wild turkey, another cut of meat that is often discarded.
“Bone With a Hole”
Most are familiar with the classic Italian recipe of braised Osso Buco made with carrots, onion, tomatoes and wine and served with a Gremolata. However, Osso Buco technically means “Bone with a Hole” as it describes the cut of meat, not a recipe. I had the Pronghorn forearms and shanks cut crosswise into 2-3″ pieces using a bone saw. I used some kitchen twine to help keep the meat wrapped around the bone, which is full of that luscious marrow.
Marrow is mostly made up of fat, an essential element when it comes to cooking with lean wild game. As the shanks slowly braise in the sauce the marrow starts to soften and glaze onto the meat, giving you that decadent, melt-in your mouth taste.
Your probably scratching your head wondering how this turned into an Indian dish and not the classic Italian one. I am a big fan of taking traditional recipes and swapping out ingredients to give it an interesting twist. I kept the tomato as the base for the sauce but traded the wine in for Coconut Milk. The meat is seasoned with a generous amount of Garam Masala, a mix of Indian Spices. Since traditional Osso Buco is finished off with a fresh Gremolata, I sprinkled my dish with my own version made with cilantro, lime zest and minced ginger.
The end result is juicy, tender meat infused with aromatic spices and covered in a rich sauce reminiscent of Tikka Masala.
It is the ultimate winter comfort food – be sure to have some basmati rice or warm naan bread to soak up all that rich sauce!
- 2½ - 3½ lb. of Bone-In Venison Shanks *
- Kitchen Twine
- 3 T. Garam Masala, divided
- 1 t. Sea Salt
- 1 Small Yellow Onion, Sliced
- 4 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
- 1 sliced Chili Pepper (Habanero or Serrano)*
- 1 T. of Freshly Grated Ginger (Use a Microplane or finely mince)
- 1 C. Stock (Venison or beef)
- 1 - 14oz. Can of Full Fat Coconut Milk
- 1 - 14 oz. Can of plain Tomato Sauce
- ¼ t. Cayenne Powder
- ¼ t. ground cardamom
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Ghee or Oil for cooking
- ¼ C. of fresh chopped Cilantro
- Zest of ½ a Lime
- 1 t. of Minced Fresh Ginger
- Basmati Rice and/or Naan Bread
- Lime wedges
- Use a bone saw to cut the shanks crosswise into roughly 2-3" pieces. It helps to make cuts through the muscle first using a knife, and then use the saw to finish cutting through the bone. Rinse well to make sure there are no small bone fragments or dust. Cut a small piece of kitchen twine and tie it around the bone and meat. This helps them to stay connected during the cooking process and makes it easier to serve.
- Mix 2 T. of Garam Masala and 1 t. of sea salt together in a small bowl. Season the Osso Buco with the mixture and let it rest while you prep the remaining ingredients. This can also be done the night before to let the flavors marinate.
- Pre-heat the Oven to 325. Heat a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat. Add a Tablespoon of Ghee or Oil to the pan and once hot, brown each piece of Osso Buco on both sides. Remove them from the pot and set aside. Add an additional Tablespoon of oil to the pan and add the sliced onions. Allow the onions to sauté for a few minutes, and then add the chili pepper, garlic and ginger. Sauté for an additional minute or until fragrant. Deglaze the pan with the cup of stock and stir in the coconut milk and tomato sauce. Mix in the cayenne powder, cardamom and cinnamon stick. Return the Osso Buco back to the pot, cover the lid and transfer to the oven.
- Allow the Osso Buco to braise for about 3 -4 hours or until the meat begins to slide off the bone. The timing will depend on whether you used Pronghorn or Deer, and how big your shank cuts are. If the sauce reduces too much or dries out, you can add a splash of stock to the pot. While the Osso Buco cooks, you can prepare the Gremolata by mixing the cilantro, lime and ginger together in a small bowl.
- Serve the Osso Buco with basmati rice and/or Naan bread and garnish with lime wedges and the cilantro Gremolata.
* Adjust the heat level by using de-seeded jalapeños instead.