Wild Recipes

Ancho Venison Shank Tacos

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4.0 from 1 vote

It’s that time of year when just about everyone’s wild game reserves are running low. If you’re lucky enough to still have some shanks left over, give this delicious recipe a try!

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Ancho Venison Shank Tacos

Recipe by Adam Berkelmans
4.0 from 1 vote
Course: Wild Recipes


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  • For the Shanks
  • 2 full venison shanks

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons fat or oil

  • 3 ancho chilies, de-stemmed and de-seeded

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder

  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

  • 1 can/bottle Mexican beer

  • For the Salsa
  • 8oz fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

  • 8 tomatillos, paper husks removed

  • 1 jalapeno, de-seeded if you want it less spicy

  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved

  • 1 handful cilantro

  • Juice 1 lime


  • Season the shanks generously with salt and pepper.
  • Heat the fat or oil in a large Dutch oven that can accommodate the shanks, over high heat. If they’re too large, use a meat saw to break them down into smaller pieces. Add the shanks and sear on all sides until the meat has formed a nice golden brown crust.
  • Remove the shanks to a plate and turn the heat down to medium.
  • Add the de-seeded ancho chilies and toast them for 5 minutes, flipping once. Be careful not to let them burn. Remove them from the pot.
  • Add the chopped onions and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic and spices, add the chilies back in, and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Add the beer and deglaze the pot by scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the shanks back in.
  • Cover the shanks completely with water or venison stock and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and simmer for 4 hours. Alternatively, you could put the pot in a 325°F oven and cook it for 4 hours like that.
  • Meanwhile, place the onions, pineapple, tomatillos and jalapeño on a baking sheet. Put under the broiler in the oven for 5 minutes, or until everything is beginning to develop a light char.
  • Dump everything into a blender, along with the cilantro and lime juice and blitz into a very lightly chunky salsa. Set aside.
  • Once the 4 hours is up and the shanks are falling off the bone, remove them from the liquid and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred the meat and discard the bones. Set the meat aside.
  • Dump the liquid with the chilies and solids into the blender and blend on high until very smooth. Add the liquid back to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the liquid until it is thick enough to coat the meat once you add it back in.
  • Stir the meat back into the reduced liquid.
  • To serve, spoon the shredded meat onto warmed or griddled corn or flour tortillas and top with the salsa. Eat as is, or add more toppings if you’d like. This meat and salsa combo also tastes fantastic on buttered toast. Enjoy!

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Adam Berkelmans

Adam Berkelmans, also known as The Intrepid Eater, is a passionate ambassador for real food and a proponent of nose to tail eating. He spends his time between Ottawa and a cozy lake house north of Kingston, Ontario. When not cooking, he can be found hunting, fishing, foraging, gardening, reading, traveling, and discovering new ways to find and eat food.

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