Meat Sheet No. 2 – Shin of Beef

Proper shin comes from the foreleg but, in practise, ‘leg’ from the bottom of the hind leg is almost identical. As you can see they’re joints that have to support a lot of weight. In the counter shin looks full of connective tissue but when cooked long and slow the collagen dissolves, leaving moist, melt in the mouth, lean nuggets of meat. It’s the perfect cut for the bottom oven of an Aga or a slow cooker/crockpot. Patience is essential but more than worthwhile. For most shin recipes the meat is interchangeable with braising steak but shin will always give the best results if you have the time and plan ahead.

Shin is also a good cut for the BFS ten veg and a bit of meat/meat as seasoning school of cooking. It’s got enough flavour and texture to enhance big dishes even when used in small quantities.Shin is normally sold and cooked as a slice/steak but can also be cooked as a joint or diced.
Drinks wise, shin is always going to need something fairly robust. Stick to stout, or one of Barnaby’s dark pilsners for the stew or try our Cien-y-Pico Garnacha, Basconsillos Ribera del Duero or Mas Gabriel Clos des Lièvres.

Suggested recipes

Carbonnade Flamande 

You might think that a beef bourguignon becomes Carbonnade Flamande when you substitute beer for red wine, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Vinegar, sugar and mustard, combined with the richness of the slightly reduced beer, gives a whole new ‘agrodulce’ dimension that’s guaranteed to knock your socks off. Serve as a casserole, as a pie with a pastry crust or, best of all, with a crusty topping of stale, mustard and jus infused bread. Be warned – it’s all in the timing. Get it right, and it’s not hard, and you’re walking through the culinary pearly gates.
1.5 kg shin of beef in large cubes
4 tbsp of seasoned white flour
50g butter
330ml strong ale
2 large onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
500ml BFS bone broth (or chicken stock)
1tbsp brown sugar
1tbsp vinegar (cheap balsamic is good)
2tsp Tracklements Wiltshire mustard, or similar
Salt and pepper
Bouquet garni of celery leaf/3 bay leaves/sprig of thyme/parsley tied together
Stale French or ciabatta stick, cut into diagonal slices

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Melt half the butter in a frying pan and fry off the onions and garlic over a medium heat until just beginning to colour. Transfer to a heavy casserole.
When all meat is browned, transfer to the casserole and deglaze the pan with the beer and broth. Allow to reduce slightly and give it a good scrape to loosen all the burnt bits and pour into the casserole.
Now add the vinegar, sugar, 1tbsp of mustard and the bouquet garni, cover and cook in a low oven (150°C) for around 3 hours. Lay the slices of bread out on a baking tray in the oven for five minutes until they just begin to toast. Remove the lid of the casserole for the last half hour. Take out of the oven and ladle off any excess liquid so it just covers the meat. Save for gravy or soup. Cover with slices of French bread that have been spread sparingly with mustard mixed with a couple of tablespoons of the juice. Return to the oven without the lid until the bread crisps. Serve with robust greens like savoy cabbage or cavolo nero. Mashed potatoes are also traditional but, for me, a little heavy.

Austerity Soup (Shin of beef with horseradish and apple sauce)

This is simple, warming, delicious and cheap – hence the name. It is as much a stew as a soup but, either way, it’s a robust and easy dish that doesn’t need constant attention. The beauty of shin is that it goes through a sudden damascene transformation from unchewably tough to mouth-wateringly tender in a matter of moments. It just takes some time to get there. The apple and horseradish adds a sweet piquancy which, when added at the end maintains its freshness.
2 Bramley apples, peeled & diced
Juice of ½ lemon
120-150g fresh horseradish, peeled & finely grated
250g beef shin, cut into rough 1cm dice
2tbsp seasoned flour
1tbsp vegetable oil
50g butter
2 onions, finely sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Few sprigs thyme
1 tsp tomato purée
2 litres beef stock
250g cavalo nero or kale or spring greens or purple sprouting broccoli
Salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 120°C/Gas 1.
Make the sauce by gently stewing the apples to the point of collapse, then add the lemon juice and horseradish.
Toss the beef in the flour and cook to a dark brown in the hot oil.
Heat the butter in a saucepan and gently cook the onion, garlic and thyme for 7-10 minutes with a lid on until soft. Stir in the tomato purée and stock. Bring to a simmer, add the beef, season and cook gently for at least 3 hours in the oven until the beef is tender. Add the greens and simmer until tender. Stir in the apple and horseradish sauce. Re-season and serve.

Shin of beef braised in soy stock

Inspired by Alastair Little’s ‘master stock’ recipe this might look like a pretty expensive marinade but you can easily freeze it, re-season it and reuse. Alternatively, you can use less marinade and cook both beef and liquid in a boiling bag, submerged in a large pan of water. 
If you have access to a way of maintaining a constant sous-vide temperature (54°C) you can cook for an extended period of time (up to 48 hours) and then raise the temperature to finish off. Check out Lakeland’s version here
250ml soy sauce
150ml mirin or dry sherry
25g fresh ginger, sliced
2-3 star anise
1 garlic clove
1 red chilli
1 piece dried orange peel
600g shin of beef – in a piece, tied as a joint
Place all the ingredients, except the beef, in a saucepan with 750ml of water and bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and immerse the shin joint. Return to a very gentle simmer and skim away impurities then turn down to a bare simmer for a further 2½-3 hours until tender (you may have to top up the stock with water). Drain, cool and press with a weight overnight before slicing as thinly as possible.

Chunky chilli con carne

Diced beef gives chilli far more texture and beefy flavour than mince. Slow cooking to the point of disintegration is the secret. It’s also a good way of making a little meat go a very long way.
½ heaped tsp dried chilli flakes
1tsp each ground cumin, cinnamon & oregano
5 sprigs thyme, tied together with string
5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
350g beef, in 1½cm cubes
3tbsp olive oil
1 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 heaped tsp coriander seeds
½ red chilli (or more plus seeds if you like it hot), deseeded & thinly sliced
2 large onions, cut into large dice
2 carrots, cut into small dice
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tins kidney beans, drained – or about 350g of dried, soaked & cooked
Salt & pepper
Put the dried chilli flakes, ground cumin, cinnamon, oregano, thyme and half the garlic into a dish and add the diced beef. Turn the meat to coat and leave in the fridge to marinate for a few hours, overnight if possible.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy based casserole dish over a medium heat and gently fry the cumin and coriander seeds for a couple of minutes. Turn up the heat, add the beef and fry until browned.
Turn the heat back down and add the fresh chilli, remaining garlic, onions, carrots and a little salt to season. Keep stirring until the onions are transparent and the carrots soft. It’ll happen quicker if you put the lid on after a few minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes before adding the kidney beans. Cover with water and simmer on a low heat for an hour with the lid on. Then take off the lid and simmer for up to an hour more, until the meat is falling apart and everything is beginning to thicken.
Finish by adding a good pinch of ground cumin to freshen it up. Lastly check the seasoning and consistency – if it looks a little dry, add a little more water. Serve with the usual suspects: sour cream, guacamole, lime marinated red onions, tortillas and wedges of lime.