Thor’s Hammer Osso Buco (Smoked Beef Shank)
WHAT IS THOR’S HAMMER
What does Thor’s Hammer have to do with Osso Buco you ask?
First off, it’s not really a hammer. It is simply what many commonly refer to this style of beef shank as. Beef shank is a tough cut of meat that is taken from the forearm and upper part of the rear legs of a steer. You may be thinking, yum… a tough cut of meat, right? Well, when prepared properly, it can turn into the most tender meat that will shred just by looking at it. Ok Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch, but it will truly shred extremely easily.
Now that we know what a shank is, let’s cover why it is called Thor’s Hammer. Have you seen it? It looks like a big hammer with a handle! If you are familiar with Superheroes, then you know that Thor carried a large Hammer. Do you see where this is going? I think you do. Now, let’s continue. It is a beef shank that has been “frenched” to expose the bone and give the appearance of a hammer. Frenched is nothing more than a French cooking term that means to cut the fats and meat back from the bone on a roast or chop. It sounds cool and looks even cooler.
HOW TO COOK BEEF SHANK
The Thor’s Hammer beef shank can be prepared in many different ways. This is a cut that takes well to long, low, and slow cooking. The most popular way to prepare this cut is to sear it on all sides in a hot pan and then braise it. To braise something is to cook it slowly in liquid to transform a tough cut into soft, tender, fall off the bone meat.
Beef shanks can also take very well to smoking, sou-vide style cooking and even crock pot cooking. Any of these can turn out a fantastic meal. The real secret to beef shanks is simply to cook them at a low temperature for a long time. One great way that we like to do it is to smoke it just like you would smoke a brisket. Talk about tender and delicious meat, that is it!
SMOKED AND BRAISED
For our purposes, and because we love a little kiss of smoke on everything, Captain Ron decided to give this the old smoke and braise treatment. He loaded up the Big Green Egg with charcoal and smoking wood and smoked it for 3 hours instead of searing it. This adds a ton of flavor and gives the meat a beautiful color. Remember, we eat with our eyes first!
The next step is very similar to any other way of braising, liquids, seasonings, and vegetables, cooked together in a covered pot with the meat until the meat is ready to fall off the bone. The incredible flavors and texture that this method provides make for an incredible meal.
The term Osso Buco literally translates to “bone with a hole”. The hole is the area of the bone that holds the bone marrow and we do not want to leave that out! Traditional Osso Buco is made up of veal shanks braised with vegetables in wine and broth. Sounds pretty familiar, right? The only difference that we made was to use a frenched beef shank instead of a veal shank. Frenched is nothing more than a French cooking term that means to cut the fats and meat back from the bone on a roast or chop. It sounds cool and looks even cooler.
Osso Buco is generally served over a bed of polenta, mashed potatoes, or risotto but my favorite way is to serve it over a thick and hearty pasta. I just feel that it pairs perfectly with it. This big thick bone and mass of meat deserves a hearty bed to sit in. Pappardelle pasta fits the bill perfectly for me but feel free to serve it over whatever you like. There is no wrong answer if you ask me. Except liver, don’t serve it over liver….
I would highly recommend that you head to your local butcher, ask for a Thor’s Hammer and get to smoking and braising. When you make this dish, don’t forget to tag us on social media wherever you like to post to. Use the hashtag #FOGOCharcoal too! We would love to see your creations. Until then, always be sure to Get Out And Grill and we will see you the next time on The FOGO Life!
- Pat the beef shank dry and coat it in Wagyu Beef Tallow. Cover the shank evenly with Tina Cannon European Blend Seasoning. Make sure to season the bottom and even the hole in the bone where the marrow is. Let it sit out on the counter while you light the grill and prepare for smoking.
- Fill your grill with FOGO Super Premium Charcoal and prepare for indirect smoking at 250°. Add 2 Bourbon Barrel Smoking Chunks or more if you want more smoke flavor.
- Stand Thor’s Hammer upright in the Dutch Oven and place it on the smoker and cook for approximately 3 hours.
- Remove the Dutch Oven from the grill and open the vents to raise the temperature to 350°. Use a skewer to scoop out the bone marrow and empty it into the pot. Add the tomato paste and vegetables to the pot and stir to combine. Now lay the shank down sideways in the pot. Sprinkle the vegetables with a bit more of Tina Cannon Rub, then pour the liquids in.
- Cover the Dutch Oven and return it to the grill. Cook the shank for 3 more hours, make sure it is plenty tender then start preparing the pasta according to the package directions. Remove the Dutch Oven from the grill.
- Once the pasta is done, drain it and place it in a large bowl. Remove the shank from the Dutch Oven and stand it up in the pasta. Using the cotton and orange gloves to protect your hands from the heat, shred the meat and spread it out over the pasta. Ladle the sauce and vegetables over the meat and pasta and serve. You could also portion it and pour the liquids and veggies individually. It’s up to you. Go crazy, do it your favorite way. Top with some shredded parmesan cheese, Mangia and enjoy!
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