Slow Cooker Venison Shanks with Gochujang and Five Spice

Venison shanks are a flavourful, reasonably-priced (usually) cut of meat. They need lengthy cooking and are ideal for letting a slow cooker do all the hard work. This looks like quite a long recipe but it's actually a pretty straightforward and relaxed way to get beautifully tender meat which tastes a little different to the usual ways of flavouring venison. 

I've owned a number of slow cookers over the years and I wish I could say that they all behave in exactly the same way. But I can't. So the cooking time here should be treated as a reasonable, but in no way foolproof, recommendation.

I've used a five spice paste to give extra depth and make things easy, but a little five spice powder could be added instead, if that's what you have. I think the gochujang works particularly well with the venison, but you could substitute a different chilli paste (maybe a smoky one) if you prefer.

This should be enough for 4 people and, since it delivers some punchy flavour, is probably best served with simply cooked rice or noodles, although I think some mashed potato would make a good alternative if you fancy it.

Slow Cooker Venison Shanks
Small handful of dried shiitake mushrooms
One small onion, chopped 
2 venison shanks 
4 carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
Half a mooli, peeled and cut into chunks (a little larger than the carrot chunks)
200ml - 300ml chicken stock
1 tbsp five spice paste 
1 tbsp gochujang
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp red wine vinegar 
1 tsp brown sugar 
1 tbsp dark soy
Dash of sesame oil

To serve (optional, but a great contrast): 

Grated mooli in lime juice, lime zest, soy sauce and sugar
A few spring onions
A few sliced pickled chillies 

Place the shiitake mushrooms in boiling water to rehydrate. Turn the slow cooker on to High.

In a frying pan over a low to moderate heat, soften the onion in a little oil until it's starting to take on a touch of colour. Add the onion to the slow cooker. 

Season the venison shanks. Turn up the heat under the frying pan and brown the shanks on all sides. Add the shanks to the slow cooker.

Add the carrot and mooli chunks to the frying pan (with a little extra oil if necessary) and fry over a high heat until they start to take on a little colour. Add to the slow cooker. 

Drain the shiitake mushrooms but retain the soaking water. Chop the mushrooms a little if the pieces are large and add them to the slow cooker.

Lower the heat under the frying pan and add the chicken stock, loosening any bits from the base of the pan. (The amount of chicken stock needed will depend on how closely the shanks and veg fill the slow cooker. If they're quite tightly packed, then 200ml should be plenty but add more if necessary). Stir the five spice paste, gochujang, tomato purée, red wine vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil into the stock together with the soaking liquid from the mushrooms (being careful to avoid adding any grit there may be in the soaking liquid). Stir the liquid well, bring to a simmer and pour into the slow cooker. The liquid doesn't need to cover the shanks completely - about two thirds to three quarters is fine.

Leave to cook on High for 2 hours then turn the shanks over to even out the cooking. (This stage is not essential but it does lead to a more balanced result). Leave to cook for another 2 hours.

I like to add some acidity to the finished dish to contrast with the deep, rich flavour of the venison and lightly pickled mooli works well. So while the venison is cooking, grate some peeled mooli (around 5 - 10cm should be plenty) and mix it with the juice and zest of a small lime, a generous dash or two of soy sauce and some sugar or agave nectar. Taste and add as much sweetener as you like, but it's best to keep it quite sharp. Leave in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

After 4 hours in the slow cooker, check the shanks. The meat should be thoroughly cooked and coming away from the bones. If the meat still seems a little too firm, then leave them in the cooker for another hour.

Once you're satisfied that the shanks are ready, remove them from the cooker, take the meat off the bones and cut or tear any remaining large pieces into smaller chunks. Return the meat to the cooker and stir in thoroughly. You may well prefer to thicken the sauce a little before serving, using cornflour or whatever thickener you prefer.

To serve, top with the pickled mooli and sprinkle over some finely chopped spring onions and a few pickled chilli slices, if you have any to hand.


  1. I have seen venison shanks for sale occasionally and this sounds like a delicious way of using them. With March being, in my book, the fifth month of winter it's perfect for the time of year.

    1. I meant to add that we own several slow cookers; a mini one, a full sized one and now, a multi cooker. Space to store them is an issue but they all come into their own for different things so I'm loathe to part with any of them.

  2. You never know with March: currently it's very wet and feels a bit autumnal. I've got two slow cookers these days - a quite costly large one and a smaller, astonishingly cheap, nameless one. But, in fact, I almost always use the astonishingly cheap one.


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