Juicy Elk Shank Tacos with Tangy Slaw
Recipes and photos by Christie Green
- 2 elk shanks (portion of front leg from elbow to hoof)
- 1 cup kosher salt
Place shanks in bowl. Sprinkle with salt and cover with water. Soak overnight.
- Olive oil
- Wood chips or pellets (hickory, fruit wood from last year’s fruit tree pruning, or your favorite)
Fill smoker with wood chips or pellets. Set to lowest setting to smoke—not cook. Remove shanks from water, pat dry, and slather all sides with olive oil. Set on lowest rack in smoker. Smoke for 3–4 hours, turning shanks every hour.
Pull shanks from smoker once they’re a rich, glazed brown color. Place in a slow cooker and cover with water. Cook on low overnight, or for 6–8 hours.
PREPARE TO SERVE
- 5 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- Olive oil
Remove shanks from slow cooker. Pull all meat from bones (it should slip away easily; connective tissue should be cooked/dissolved as well). Tease apart meat into shredded strands. Heat a comal and drizzle with olive oil. Place meat, garlic, and oregano on hot comal, stirring to integrate ingredients. Remove from comal once meat is lightly seared; place in bowl and drizzle with residual broth from slow cooker to moisten slightly.
- 1 small head red cabbage, shredded
- 1 carrot, grated
- 2 black radishes, grated
- 1 or more jalapeños, minced
- 2 scallions, diced
- Juice of two limes
- Handful of Siberian elm samaras (seasonal, and optional; harvest from trees in spring when seeds are bright green)
Toss all ingredients in bowl. May be left overnight or longer for flavors to meld.
Heat fresh blue or yellow corn tortillas on oiled comal until soft; place in tortilla warmer or folded kitchen towel to keep warm and soft.
Serve elk, slaw, and tortillas.
Slices of fresh lime, choice of salsas and crumbled cotija and asadero cheeses, along with cilantro, avocado, and other sides may accompany tacos, but they’re delicious with just the meat and slaw!
Brine and smoke steps may be skipped. Slow cook longer (12–16 hours) until connective tissue becomes clear and soft. Season with salt, to taste.
Christie Green is a mother, hunter, and writer, and the principal landscape architect at radicle. Raised in Alaska and on her grandfather’s farm in West Texas, she now resides in Santa Fe. With food and water as catalysts, Ms. Green seeks to pique sensual connection and uncomfortable curiosity.