Shin of beef is one of those foodstuffs which often knows a very unenviable but totally undeserved reputation. Frequently, people will see it on a supermarket shelf, notice the excess of fat and sinew and think of it as an inferior piece of meat. Alternatively, they may be tempted to buy it due to its fairly low price in comparison to many other cuts of beef but proceed to cook it wholly inappropriately, subsequently finding it incredibly tough and difficult to chew. In the latter instance, the unfortunate consumer may well be put off buying shin of beef - or similar cuts - for life. 

Shin of Beef
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Piece of shin beef

The good news is that when shin of beef is cooked appropriately, it is not only one of the tastiest cuts of beef you will ever eat but one of the most tender. The simple key to achieving this goal is to cook the meat very long and slow. What will happen during this process is that the fat and sinew will render down, adding huge levels of extra flavor to the meat, while the tough strands will be softened and tenderized beyond belief. Shin of beef cooked in this way will quite literally melt in your mouth.

The recipe featured below is for a simple shin beef and root vegetable curry. The curry powder is entirely optional and can be omitted if desired. In which instance, you may wish to add instead a pinch of dried rosemary and/or thyme to impart a little extra flavor at the stage of adding the stock and the recipe's first step would be to soften the onions in the oil. The root vegetables used are also variable options but do be aware that different vegetables may require different cooking times and require to be added to the pot either earlier or - more likely - later. 

Easy Shin Beef and Root Vegetable Curry Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2)

Root Vegetables for Shin Beef Curry
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Root vegetables for inclusion in shin of beef and vegetable curry

  • 6 to 8 ounce piece of shin of beef
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons medium curry powder
  • 1 small white onion
  • 1/2 small rutabaga (Swede turnip)
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • 1 medium sized green chili pepper
  • 1 pint fresh beef stock
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf) to garnish, optional


Cooking Curry Powder
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

The harshness is firstly cooked off the curry powder

Put the oil in to a large pot and initially add the curry powder only. Put the pot on to a low to medium heat and stir for a minute or so. This simply serves to cook any harshness off the curry powder but be especially careful not to burn the powder or it will become very bitter and impart this bitterness to your finished dish. As an approximate guide, once you can clearly smell the curry powder cooking, it is sufficiently done.

Onions are added to Curried Oil
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Onion is added to curried oil

Peel the onion and half it down through the center. Lay each half flat and moderately finely slice. Add the onion to the curry spiced oil and stir over a medium heat for a couple of minutes until the onion is just starting to soften.

Shin Beef added to Spiced Onion
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Diced shin beef is added to spiced onion

Although it may be tempting to do so, you should not remove and discard any of the fat from the beef. This not only represents flavor, it helps keep the meat tender during the long, slow cooking period. Instead, simply dice to small bite sized pieces (approximately one inch chunks). Add the beef to the spiced onion and turn up the heat slightly. Stir the beef for a couple of minutes to evenly brown and seal. 

Chili is added to Browned Beef
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Green chili is added to beef and onion

It is vitally important to know the strength of your chili. This can be obtained from the pack or by seeking advice in store if you are otherwise unsure. Slice the top off the chili and discard. Slice the remainder of the chili across the way in to thin discs and add to the beef and onion. Pour in the beef stock and stir well. Turn up the heat just until the stock starts to simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for two hours, checking it occasionally to ensure the liquid level is being maintained at a safe level. If absolutely necessary, a little bit of boiling water can be stirred through but this should not be necessary provided a low enough simmer is maintained and the pot is kept covered.

Vegetables are added to Beef Curry
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Root vegetables are added to curried beef

The root vegetables should be prepared during the last ten minutes of the beef curry's initial simmering time. The rutabaga (Swede turnip) has a very thick skin which should be removed before the flesh is diced to approximately one inch pieces. You could if you wish peel the carrot and parsnips but I prefer not to, provided of course the skin is not too damaged. This is largely because most of the vitamins and goodness are in or just under the skin. Instead, I simply scrubbed them well under running water before topping and tailing them and chopping them in to chunks similar to the size of the rutabaga pieces.

Add the vegetables to the beef when the two hours are up and stir well. It may just be that a little boiling water is required at this stage though resist the impulse to add too much as it will dilute the flavor and cause the sauce to be too liquid. Bring back to a simmer and continue to simmer for a further twenty to twenty-five minutes until the vegetables are just cooked.

When the vegetables and beef are tender, carefully taste and season as required with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat and move the pot to a cool part of your stove for ten minutes. This lets the beef rest slightly but the curry will remain hot during this time. After that, divide between two deep serving plates, garnish with the cilantro (coriander leaf) if required and serve immediately.

Shin Beef and Root Vegetable Curry
Credit: Gordon Hamilton

Shin beef and root vegetable curry is ready to serve