The Case for Shin Beef
Many people turn straight away to the aptly named stewing steak when making a stew, pie filling or casserole dish, but what about shin beef?
Shin comes from very much lower down on the animal than stewing steak, which generally comes from the shoulder, and for this reason carries more weight and so tends to be tougher. Along with this toughness, though, comes a lot of flavour. The muscles of the shin need to support a great deal of weight and so have lots of connective tissue which, if sufficiently cooked, will break down and melt to create a flavourful gelatinous sauce. As Delia says of shin beef in her “Complete Cookery Course”, “for an old-fashioned brown stew, I wouldn’t use anything else.”
I have experimented with both beef shin and stewing and braising steak and although it takes a little longer to cook, if you’re looking for that beefy, velvet gravy and melt in the mouth texture, it’s the one to choose.
You can buy beef shin on or off the bone. Buying off the bone gives you the convenience of being able to dice or slice it for a pie filling or stew. Leaving the bone in will give you the benefit of some delicious and healthy marrow that will add a further beefy richness to the sauce in a casserole.
When you have your shin beef in front of you, don’t make the mistake of trimming of the sinewy tissue as this is what will give you the gelatinous sauce that you’re looking for.
Beef shin needs a bold full bodied wine to pair with such as Malbec, or if your dish has some spice to it, try a Red Zinfandel.
If you’re looking for beer to match with your beef shin dish, then a good stout will go well.
Shin can be cut into segments or braised whole. Cook it slowly with red wine, beer, or water and stock.