Updated: Sep 21, 2021
If you've been following me for the last few years you'll know that I'm a shank junky. Besides the neck, its some of the most tender meat on the animal. In this recipe I'm going back to my Southern roots with some buttermilk dumplings. You usually see these served with braised birds, squirrels or rabbits, but I think they're a great pairing with tender venison shanks.
These dumplings are a little different than your normal southern style dumpling. These are formed, cut out and par-baked, which allow them to be made ahead of time and held at room temperature for about 3 hours before you finish cooking them in the broth. So if it's a cold day, crank up the fireplace and give this winter weather comfort dish a try.
Cooks Notes: If you're going the extra mile for presentation, skip the shank shredding process. You can place the tender shanks under your broiler until nice and browned and then serve in the center of your dumping platter.
For the Dumplings
3 1/3 cups - pastry flour (chilled)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon - fresh cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon - kosher salt
1 stick - unsalted butter (frozen and then grated with a cheese grater, then refreeze)
1 1/2 cups - cold butter milk
For the Venison Shank Stew
3 - venison shanks
2 cups - carrots (peeled and diced)
1 cup - onion (diced)
2 cups - celery (diced)
1 - rosemary sprig
2 - thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon - smoked paprika
1 - bay leaf
1 tablespoon - unsalted butter
1/4 cup - all purpose flour
1 tablespoon - naturally brewed soy sauce
2 teaspoons - mild vinegar based hot sauced
salt and pepper to taste
For the dumplings
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or butter a non-stick baking sheet and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the cold flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Using your hands, work the frozen grated butter into the flour mixture until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Add the cold buttermilk and mix until just combined. Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead until it is smooth (this should take about 2 minutes).
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out the dumplings using a 1/2 inch circle cutter or use a knife and cut into squares. Line the dumplings onto your prepared baking sheet. They should be touching like you would do for biscuits. Bake the dumplings for for 8-10 minutes until they start to firm up. They shouldn't have any color on them. Pull the dumplings apart and let them rest at room temperature uncovered for up to 3 hours.
For the Venison Stew
Place the shanks in a large enough pot so that they can lay horizontal. If they cant lay horizontal, trim a couple of inches off of the bone so that they fit. Cover with just enough water so that the shanks for covered. Add 1 cup of the carrots, 1 cup of the celery and 2 cups of the onions and the herbs. Cover and bring to a simmer until the shanks are fork tender (about 1.5 hours).
Remove the shanks from the pot and set aside. Strain the pot and reserve the cooking liquid and discard the solids. Wash the pot and set it over medium-high heat. Add the butter, once it is melted add the remaining vegetables and cook for 10 minutes while stirring frequently.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the all purpose flour. Stir until until there are no lumps in the flour. While frequently stirring, cook the roux until it is a light golden color (about 8-10 minutes).
Slowly stir in the strained broth broth. Bring this to a simmer and cook at a simmer until it has thickened. About 25 minutes.
While the broth is simmering, remove the meat from the shanks and shred thinly. If you like tendons, chop those up and mix in the with meat.
Add the soy sauce, hot sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add the dumplings to the stew and simmer for about 5 minutes or until cooked through.