Every Shank Beef Cut Explained And The Best Ways To Prepare/Cook Them

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This article will cover the shank section of the cow, where it is, how it is cut, and the best ways to prepare/cook the cuts. This article will help you better decide if the shank is the right cut for you to fit your cooking endeavors. No matter if you want to cook the shank at home, ordered from a butcher, or in a restaurant, you will be able to better understand this section of the cow.

Even though this area of the cow also applies for wagyu cows, it isn’t going to me much different in this area for wagyu vs a regular cow. However, you can expect a little more tenderness in the wagyu compared to the regular cow beef.


The shank section is a cut taken from the cow that is located under the brisket section and the round section of the cow. It is a part of the cow’s leg. It consists of two different whole cuts: the foreshank (under the brisket) and the hind shank (under the round). This means that each normal cow has four shanks in total. The shank section is considered to be one of the cheapest selections in the terms of overall price on the cow. The shank area contains a lot of connective tissues, gristle (cartilage and tendons), and membrane. It is a really lean area, with the beef containing very little fat.

Shank uses:

The shank section is used to make stew meat, soups, ground beef, taco meat, and pot roast. It can also be cut (cross-cut) using a band saw or saw into beef pucks that give the famous cartoon steak with the bone eye look.


The shank section is the toughest section of the cow out of all of the other sections. However, the meat has a strong beef flavor.

Best cooking methods:

The best way to cook an entire shank section is to slow cook it for hours at low temperatures, keeping the beef well hydrated. It can be smoked for a few hours starting off, and then cooked in liquid flavorings in a covering to keep the moisture in.


The foreshank is located below the brisket section of the cow. It is actually attached to the brisket, which can be separated by slicing off the brisket if these two sections are still one piece. The bottom portion of the foreshank as a whole can be sliced off as well, as it isn’t edible. The rest of the foreshank as a whole is beef with a lot of connective tissues surrounding the leg bone.

Foreshank uses:

The foreshank can be sliced into beef pucks by cross-cutting it, to make a smaller sized portion to cook. The beef can also be used to make stew meat, shredded beef for sandwiches, or “Thor’s hammer”, which is half of the meat taken off the bone to make a hammer shaped beef drumstick. To make this, the meat is taken off of one half of the bone by cutting the meat off that surrounds the bone. The bone is cleaned, leaving the rest of the meat on the other half of the bone.


The foreshank is a very tough cut, because of the gristle and connective tissues in the beef. Of the two cuts (foreshank and the hind shank), the foreshank is the tougher meat. Despite this cut being tough, it has a strong flavor of beef.

Best cooking methods:

For the best results, the foreshank should be cooked at low temperatures around 250 degrees Fahrenheit for atleast 4 hours. The best cooking method for the foreshank is to braise it. It will break down the tough gristle and connective tissues in the beef, possibly even making the beef tender if cooked long enough. Braising it for longer (9 hours total) can yield even better results.

Hind shank

The hind shank is of course similar to the foreshank, but contains a tendon that has to be cut off (the Achilles heel). The hind shank is located under the round section of the cow. It is connected to it. Underneath the tendon of the hind shank is a seam that can be followed through while cutting to remove the shank section from the bottom of the round section, that the hind shank is connected to. The section can be cut off at the tip of the large leg bone covered by the beef in the round section if it is still connected to the round.

Hind shank uses:

The hind shank is used for the same purpose as the foreshank. It can be used to make the “Thor’s hammer”, cross-cut into beef pucks for stewing, or used as beef shreds for sandwiches or taco meat.


The hind shank is also considered to be a very tough cut, but is also usually more tender than the foreshank when cooked properly.

Best cooking methods:

The hind shank is best cooked just as the foreshank is. It can be braised for hours to break down the connective tissues, and used for pot roast.


The merlot cut is a cut taken from the upper hind leg of the cow. It is the calf muscle of the cow and it comes specifically from the medial muscle of the calf muscle. The calf muscle as a whole has a seam that can be followed through to cut and separate the merlot from the lateral calf muscle. Heavy connective tissues cover the medial calf muscle, where the merlot cut comes from.

Merlot uses:

The merlot is used to make merlot steaks, taco meat, meat for soups, meat for stews, ground beef, and pot roast.


The texture of the merlot cut is known to be lean, very tough, and flavorful. Some individuals claim that this cut is tender, but it is not a tender cut once it has been cooked to appropriate temperatures. It easily becomes chewy when cooked too long. For the merlot cut to be tender to some individual’s likings, it is eaten raw (“cooked” as a blue steak), or cooked rare.

Best cooking methods:

The best way to cook the merlot cut is as pot roast, cooking it long and slow at low temperatures.


When preparing the merlot cut, ensure that all surface fat and connective tissues are thoroughly removed before cooking. There is also gristle in this cut, which has to be removed.

Lateral calf muscle

The lateral calf muscle is the other portion connected to the medial calf muscle of the cow. This portions contains a lot of gristle and connective tissues. Gristle also runs through the center of this cut, making it not suitable in most applications.

Lateral calf muscle uses:

The lateral calf muscle is usually only used to make pot roast or lean ground beef. It can be cut into steaks, but they need to ne tenderized or braised for better results.


Very tough in texture is usually how the lateral muscle of the calf is described.

Best cooking methods:

Braising or pot roasting for long cooking times and low temperatures is the best way to cook the lateral calf muscle if it isn’t being used for ground beef.

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