Difference Between Lamb Shank & Pork Shank

Written by jennifer moore
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Difference Between Lamb Shank & Pork Shank
The best lamb shank comes from naturally-grazed lambs. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

When a butcher, chef or exert cook talks about shank, he is referring to the lower front or back leg of the animal from knee to the lower part of the leg (the shin area.) Other than this commonality, pork and lamb shank are completely different, primarily because lamb shank originates from lambs while pork shank originates from pigs,each having its own distinct flavour, cooking methods and recipes.

Pork Shank Flavor

Pork shank has a mild flavour, similar to pork roast, but the meat is tender to the point of falling off the bone when cooked correctly. Its flavour differs slightly depending on the cooking method, the foods that accompany it and the seasonings used. But it generally has a mild to sweet flavoured tender meat used in home styled cooking recipes.

Pork Shank Dishes

Home comfort recipes can be made with pork shanks. These might include spicy braised pork shank, roast pork shanks, pork and white beans or smoked pork shank. Most of these can be made by even the most amateur of cooks, although slow cooking or baking is usually a requirement for them. More complicated and gourmet dishes can also be created like red wine pork shank or pork osso buco.

Lamb Shank Flavor

Lamb shanks refer to the leg area of a sheep less than a year old. These shanks have a earthy, rich and sweeter flavour than pork, and this is one reason lamb does not appeal to many people. In fact, the bigger the shank, the deeper and more pronounced the lamb flavour will be. Commercially-fed lambs have a milder, less gamy flavour. But just because the flavour is earthy does not mean it is unpleasant, as many people adore lamb shank. Before serving lamb shank at an event, celebration or dinner party you should check to make sure everyone invited enjoys the taste of lamb. You should also note that lamb meat is also naturally fattier than pork.

Lamb Shank Dishes

Recipes can be just as easy for lamb shanks as they are for pork, though dishes like rosemary braised lamb shanks or lamb shank curry take a little more effort in preparing. As with pork slow cooking, braising and baking are the best cooking methods, as it makes the lamb meat tender to the point of falling off the bone. The outer fat of lamb has a thin, papery covering called the fell. You may want to remove the fell before cooking the shank, since some chefs believe it adds a stronger, gamier flavour. The fell is the thin, papery layer of fat covering the outer part of the shank and leg. But, if the gamy taste does not bother you, leave it in place as it helps keep the shape of the leg shank.

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