“What’s your favourite cut?” It’s something we get asked all the time over here. And I’ll tell you what: I don’t have one. That’s like asking a parent who their favourite kid is. If they had like...a million kids. You see, a carcass has so many possibilities. And the cuts we fabricate from a carcass can be enjoyed in so many ways. It’s tough to pick one. Is it raining outside? Is the sun out? Are we cutting something to slow roast or are we cutting something to throw on a braai? Are we entertaining? Is it a quick, midweek meal. Are we braising it for hours? These all need to considered to answer this impossible question.
I’ll tell you what my best value-for-money cut is though. Without hesitating. It’s beef shin. As one of the cheapest things we sell, the possibilities that this cut offers are endless. Well…not endless. You can’t use one to start a car, for example.
Anyway, the shin has tons of collagen, gelatin and connective muscles that need to be broken down. Coax them out, by braising gently for a few hours, and you’re left with sticky, gorgeous beef that can then be shredded into pretty much anything. It can be a ragout, mixed into pasta and topped with gremolata. It can be spooned straight over gnocchi or wet polenta with a little salsa verde action. Or it can be used to make the dreamiest taco you ever did dream. Here’s a little recipe below.
Beef shin tacos with guac and yoghurt.
What you’ll need: (serves 4)
600g, bone-in beef shin, sliced into discs
1l beef stock
400g tinned tomatoes
Salt, to taste
Pepper, freshly cracked, to taste
1 x cup sherry vinegar
2 x tsp chilli powder
1 x fresh chilli, finely chopped
1 x tsp smoked paprika
1 x onion, finely chopped
2 x garlic cloves, chopped
Guacamole (please make this yourself! An avocado, a teaspoon of yoghurt, one fresh chilli, chopped and juice of two limes.)
Okay, what to do:
Preheat your oven to 140 Degrees Celsius.
In a deep pot, add some olive oil and brown your beef shin on the stovepot. Be aggressive here - you want some decent colour.
When the meat has a nice, golden colour, remove and set aside.
Reduce heat and add a splash of the sherry vinegar, scraping off the brown bits stuck to the pan.
Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until starting to colour.
Add the garlic, the chilli and the spices and cook for a few minutes until the onions have softened completely but haven’t coloured. Add a splash of water if necessary.
Add the browned beef back to the pot and add the tinned tomatoes, the rest of the sherry vinegar and beef stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer. You want the meat about 80% covered, not completely submerged.
Place the lid on the pot and cook in the oven for about 4 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven and carefully fish out the meat with tongs. (It’ll probably be falling away from the bone. That’s good news)
On a medium heat, reduce the sauce by cooking, uncovered until it is rich and thick.
Meanwhile, shred the meat into chunky pieces using two forks, or your hands.
Add the shredded meat back to the reduced sauce, and stir through to warm.
To serve, spoon the meat into tacos and add a good smear of guacamole. Finish with a dollop of yoghurt and some coriander.
So, to recap. You need beef shin for these. You need tacos. And you need beef stock. Luckily your favourite, friendly (and handsome) neighbourhood butchers have got all of these. Pop in. Drop in. Swing by. Get up to get down. Just get over here.
FFMM, grass-fed beef shin: R130/kg
FFMM, grass-fed beef stock: R80 (for 1 litre)
Santa Anna’s tacos: R25/pack
Get your orders in here.