Beef shin is an extremely flavourful cut of beef that's super cheap and really versatile, but it's not used nearly enough.
As part of our Back to Basics series, we’re looking at some common ingredients to help make sure our readers are making the most of the great produce that we have access to here in Ireland. Previously we looked at scallops, housekeeper’s cut of beef and chicken thighs; today we're looking at beef shin.
Beef is so popular here in Ireland that the average person consumes around 19kg per year, which adds up to about a total of around 87,000 tonnes of beef a year in total! We imagine that a lot of that total is made up of things like steak and mince, but not beef shin, which is such a shame because it is absolutely jam-packed with flavour.
Beef shin (also known as shank) comes from the forequarter or hindquarter legs of a cow. As the leg holds the entire animal up and supports it while it moves around, a lot of connective builds up in the muscle, making the meat quite tough. This means that beef shin requires very low, slow cooking in order to break down the fibres, which will turn it tender and juicy. Because of how long shin takes to cook, it is seen as an undesirable cut, but because of how much flavour is packed into it, we think the long cooking time is well worth it. This also makes shin quite a cheap cut of beef, so it's perfect for any budget-conscious household.
How to buy and store shin
As always, we recommend that you buy your beef shin from your butcher. Shin can be sold on or off the bone, diced or sliced, so if you go to your butcher, they will be able to advise you on the best style to buy. They will also be able to give you great cooking tips and recipe inspiration. The bones from shin are great as the marrow adds a lot of extra flavour to any dish. If you don't want to buy your meat on the bone, ask your butcher for a marrow bone separately that you can use in your cooking.
Read more: Ever cooked with marrowbone?
Beef often changes colour throughout its shelf-life; it usually starts out bright red but can turn a brownish-grey colour, both of which are totally safe to eat, as long as it is within its use-by date. Beef shin should be kept on its own shelf in a refrigerator between 0-5ºC at all times in order to prevent bacterial growth.
Shin freezes really well, so if you don't think you'll get to use it before it goes off, you can stick it in the freezer, as long as the use-by date hasn't passed. Make sure to fully thaw the meat before use by leaving it on a plate on the bottom shelf of the fridge. It's important to keep defrosting beef away from other foods, as it releases quite a lot of liquid that can spread bacteria. Use beef shin within 24 hours of thawing and don't refreeze it.
How to cook with beef shin
As we said, beef shin requires slow cooking, so the best place to start is usually by braising. For beginners, ask for your beef boneless and diced, but ask to keep the bones. Season your beef well and brown in a ban. Remove the beef, add in a diced onion, some carrots and garlic and cook out lightly. Cover the beef with stock, bring to the boil, then simmer and cook for two hours or until the beef is tender and falls apart when touched
Need some recipe inspiration? You need to try Ryan Stringer's beef shin pie. It's perfect for a comforting family meal, but can also be served in individual portions if you like. The pie does take quite a while to cook, but the result is definitely worth the wait.
Click here for the recipe.
How do you like to cook beef shin? Let us know in the comments below.