Simple Gourmet: Big Game Drumsticks (Bone-In Shank Roast)

Whole bone-in shank roasts are an easy way to make the most of big game drumsticks.

If your kids are like my kids, then they love eating drumsticks from all the game birds I bring home. Well, this recipe is for drumsticks from big game animals.

There’s a load of meat on the bone right below the knees and elbows of all animals. The trouble is that getting it off the bone is difficult. And then it’s so covered in tendons and silver skin that it’s only good for grinding, but you still have to get the big tendons out.

Instead of grinding or wasting this substantial chunk of meat, keep it on the bone and roast it whole. Slow cooking it makes a tender meal that’ll make you fall in love with drumsticks all over again.

Use this for deer, elk, bears, antelope, and even rockchucks. Making osso buco is another popular way to eat this tasty cut. The only difference here is that the osso buco requires cross-cutting the meat and bone into segments. That’s easy with a bandsaw, but time-consuming with a hack saw.

You can use any osso buco recipe on the whole leg, too. This recipe is a little sweeter and lacks tomato paste.

What You Need

  • Roasting pan: You need something large enough for the whole shank., and it needs a lid. I used this marvelous cast iron Oval Roaster from Camp Chef
  • Shank: I used a rear shank from a cow elk
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • Potatoes
  • 1/4 cup cooking sherry
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Game stock or beef stock — quantity depends on the size of the meat
  • 2 cups Fruit juice (for example apple, grape, pineapple, or fruit punch). I also used a jar of homemade plum jam that was getting a little past its prime.
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cooking oil
Start by browning the meat on all sides.

What You Do

Start by pre-heating the oven to 350°F. If you’re using cast iron, put the roaster in the oven to pre-heat, too. Slice the vegetables and get the ingredients ready. Generously season the meat with salt and pepper.

Once it’s hot, put the roaster on the stove and keep it hot over two burners — medium-high heat. My oval roaster fits perfectly over two burners on my flat-top stove. Now add the shank and brown it well on all sides with a bit of cooking oil.

Once it’s browned like a steak all over, removed the meat from the pan.

Add a little more oil and sauté the onions and garlic in the pan for about five minutes. Add the carrots and get them a little browned, too.

Sauté the garlic and onions.

Now add the sherry and vinegar to de-glaze the pan. Scrub the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the browned/burned stuff off. Add the fruit juice and potatoes and whatever other vegetables you like in a roast.

Bring it to a boil and put the meat back, nestled to the bottom of the pan. Add the stock so that liquid comes about 3/4 of the way up the side of the meat. bring it to a boil.

Bring it all to a boil before putting in the oven.

Put the lid on and place the whole thing in the oven.

Cook at 350°F for at least four hours. Longer is even better. As it cooks, the tendons and silver skin will turn to gelatin.

Remove from the oven. Pull out the meat and remove the meat from the bone and slice into serving sizes. Remove large chunks of tendon as you cut. Serve the meat hot. Serve with rice and use the juice in the pan as sauce.

If you have an open end on the bone, you can pull the marrow out. If it’s still piping hot, it’s tasty as a spread on crusty bread. However, if it gets too cool then it’ll set up and coat your teeth and mouth with waxy tallow — not pleasant.

Remove leftover meat from the sauce. Put leftover sauce and bones in a stock pot and add water. Simmer for at least 24 hours to make a useful bone broth/stock that you can use in later recipes.

About the author: Levi Sim is an avid hunter, and an increasingly avid shooter. He strives to make delicious and simple recipes from the game he kills. He makes a living as a professional photographer, writer, and photography instructor. Check out his work and he’d love to connect on Instagram: @outdoorslevi

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Ken Jayne February 2, 2021, 9:22 am

    No. The turkey tendons are bony and will not turn gelatinous.

    I put my turkey drumsticks in the pressure cooker. The meat can then be easily taken off of the tendons and used in chili, stew, etc. Add celery, onions, and peppers for a good basic flavor.

    It is much faster than roasting.

    • Mike P February 2, 2021, 11:36 am


  • Mike P February 2, 2021, 8:50 am

    Would you recommend this recipe for wild turkey legs?

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