Cooking Neck Roasts, Shanks and Tails for Tasty Roasts and Stews

Professional Hunter Earnst Dyason cooking an ox-tail soup from a Cape buffalo's tail.

  I had to go to the Republic of South Africa to consolidate this cooking concept, but cuts from deer and other game that are often discarded actually taste better in many stews than the rump and backstrap meat that is most often used.

  I often ground the tendon-rich meat from deer shanks to hamburger meat, although I usually cooked a bone-in neck roast (like a pot roast with vegetables and water) and used swan and goose necks in giblet gravy. Recipes for these are in my books, Crossbow Hunting and Backyard Deer Hunting: Converting deer to dinner for pennies per pound

  When last in Africa I was introduced to real ox-tail soup, made from a Cape buffalo’s tail, and a layered stew cooked, but never stirred, in a heavy cast-iron pot over coals. The bottom layer was shank meat still attached to the bone that had been cut into 2-inch sections to expose the marrow.

This is a layered stew of South African origin called a "potjie" or "potjiekus" containing cut shanks and bone.

  This shank meat was put into the bottom of the pot. Heat released the fat from the marrow to allow the shank meat to brown. When this was done, water and the longer-to-cook vegetables were layered on. After the potatoes were well started a layer of onions, bell peppers and tomatoes was added. Ater this cooked for a time  this was followed by marrow, then dried fruit and finally mushrooms on top. The pot was covered and allowed to steam throughout the process. When served a heavy spoon was thrust all the way to the bottom of the pot and the contents mixed as they were brought up.

  Since this experience I have saved the shank meat for stews. When first browned and then boiled with water and vegetables in a Crock Pot, the tendons soften and provide a richer, smoothing taste with a slight hint of sweet to the stew.  Because I do not want that much fat, I do not use the cut marrow bones, but only the meat.

  Deer neck roast have always been among my favorite parts of deer and are very often among the very first things I eat to get these large parcels out of the freezer.

One thought on “Cooking Neck Roasts, Shanks and Tails for Tasty Roasts and Stews

  1. Hi Hovey,
    It really is refreshing to read your stuff and learn about utilizing any game properly. Although there are various laws that forbid the wasting of wild game meat or parts, there is far too much wastage going on; out of ignorance more than anything. What actually constitutes “wastage” is somewhat subjective and very much depends on an individual’s perception. A Fish and Game officer may have one officially dictated yardstick and a butcher another. But we should all learn to harvest all that nature offers in the way of game meat and not sometimes just take off the easy bits and run. The closer the bone, the sweeter the eating, is an old adage and one that should be remembered. Some of the oldest recipes originate from areas where folks could not afford the best cuts and thus they learned to make the fullest use of what they could get.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us all in this way.

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