Braised Pork Shanks

As strange as it may sound, pork shanks are fairly well-liked here in Quebec. Or well, at least, they used to be. Years and years ago… I think that nowadays, they get real popular around Christmas time but as soon as that’s over, they quickly go back into oblivion where they remain for the rest of the year.

But it wasn’t always like that. From what I understand, they used to be very popular fare in this part of the world and were traditionally served whole in the plate. Yes, that’s meat, bone, fat and all…

My dad used to RAVE about them.

Me, personally, I never cared for huge chunks of jiggly fat and inedible bones being served to me on a plate, so in that sense, pork shanks have always been kind of a turnoff.

Shame, because their meat is sooooo unbelievably moist and tender and juicy and TASTY! If you’ve ever had them, then you know exactly what I’m talking about!

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

So my solution is to simply pick the meat out and get rid of all the rest; only the prized meat ever makes it to my plate.

For the longest time, now, I’ve joined the ranks of the majority here and only ever had pork shanks as part of our traditional Christmas Pork Shank and Meatball Stew. Let me tell you, not anymore! Why reserve such a delicacy to only this ONE meal in the year?

Pork shanks will definitely be finding their way to my kitchen table a lot more regularly now, I can guarantee you that! Especially now that I know how much of a breeze it is to make them in a Dutch oven and turn them into a delicious braised stew…

I might very well start experimenting with flavor combinations, too. But for now, let’s stick to what I know and am comfortable with!

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

First, the shanks will need to be seared over high heat. Searing them on all sides until they get a nice, dark brown crust is key to getting them to release their full flavor potential. Hey, those aren’t my words. They were spoken by non-other than Jehane Benoît, Québec’s very own Julia Child. If Madame Benoît said it, then it *must* be true.

So let’s get our Dutch oven nice and hot to start with.

While the Dutch oven is heating up, we can mix the spices together in a large plate. Then we pat the pork shanks dry and dredge them in that spice mixture, making sure that all sides are well covered.

Don’t be afraid to lay it on thick!

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Add the shanks to the hot Dutch oven and sear them nice and good on all sides, until a nice dark brown crust forms, about 3-4 minutes per side. Resist the urge to move them around. Just let them sit there and form that crust.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Once the shanks are good and browned, add the onion and parsley, plus the water mixed with the savory, mustard, coriander as well as the rest of the spice mixture that didn’t get used to coat the pork shanks earlier.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Bring that to a boil then transfer to the oven and braise for about 3 to 3½ hours, until the meat is super tender and falls off the bones.

Oh yeah! It’s a beautiful thing. And it smells SO good, too!

Now, you see that layer of fat that’s floating on the surface? You can skim some of that if you want to. ‘Cuz yeah, there’s quite a lot of it. I always remove as much as I can with a spoon, just because I find it’s a bit too much for my taste. But if you personally don’t mind it, feel free to leave it right were it is.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Just for the fun of it, let’s take a closer look at that beautiful meat. See how moist and juicy that is? Unbelievable. And talk about tasty…

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Remove the shanks from their heavenly braising liquid and allow them to cool for a while, until you can safely handle them.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

You’ll want to pick the meat out and set it aside; bones and fat you’re probably gonna want to discard… I think they’ve pretty much given their all by now.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

As you can see, you don’t get that much meat out of pork shanks. This, right here, is pretty much what you can expect to get: you’re looking at about 1 pound of cooked meat per 4-5 pounds of raw shanks.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Now strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh sieve set directly over a  medium saucepan. Help it through by pushing and swirling it around with a spoon. Trust me, you’ll want to catch every last bit of this precious broth! 

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Bring this to a slow boil over medium-high heat.

Mix the tapioca starch with the 2 tablespoons of water and pour that right into the boiling liquid. Continue cooking for about one minute, or until the sauce is nice and thickened.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Return the meat to the saucepan, stir well and cook over medium-low heat until heated through, and then serve.

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

You know what the best part about pork shanks is? They are one of the cheapest cuts of pork you can get. For such a delicate and juicy piece of meat, I’d say they cost close to nothing! The trick is in knowing how to prepare them.

And you simply can’t go wrong with braising!

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Now I need to come up with different flavor combinations, and maybe throw a vegetable or two in there. I’m thinking fennel and turnip… I’m thinking Dijon, honey and sage… Oh yeah! Big and bold is where this is headed.

Lucky for me, I just ordered a new side of pork. I so can’t wait for it to get here. I think the shanks will be the first to go!

Oh, and psssst… did I tell you that I was planning on making my own bacon this time?

OH YEAH! TOTALLY! 

Braised Pork Shanks

Yield: Serves 4

Braised Pork Shanks

INGREDIENTS

  • 2kg (4-1/2lbs) pastured pork shanks (that's 5 or 6, depending on size)
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ----------------
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried savory
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 cups water
  • ----------------
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp water

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F
  2. In a Dutch over set over high heat, melt a good amount of cooking fat, preferably lard.
  3. While the Dutch oven is heating up, mix the spices together in a large plate. Pat the pork shanks dry and dredge them in that spice mixture, making sure that all sides are well covered.
  4. Add the shanks to the hot Dutch oven and sear them nice and good on all sides, until a nice dark brown crust forms, about 3-4 minutes per side.
  5. Add the onion and parsley, plus the water mixed with savory, mustard, coriander as well as the rest of the spice mixture that didn't get used to coat the pork shanks earlier.
  6. Bring that to a boil then transfer to the oven for about 3 to 3½ hours, until the meat is super tender and falls off the bones.
  7. Remove the shanks from the cooking liquid and allow them to cool for a while, until you can safely handle them. Pick the meat out and set it aside; discard bones and fat.
  8. Strain the cooking liquid (you can skim some of the surface fat with a spoon first if you want to) through a fine mesh sieve set directly over a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  9. Mix the tapioca starch with the 2 tablespoons of water and pour that right into the cooking liquid. Continue cooking for about one minute, or until the sauce is thickened. Return the meat to the saucepan, stir well and cook over medium-low heat until heated through, and then serve.
http://thehealthyfoodie.com/braised-pork-shanks/

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

Braised Pork Shanks | www.thehealthyfoodie.com

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Comments

  1. says

    You convinced me… :) I love slow cooked meats for this and one of my favorites is porkneck which doesn’t have bone but requires the same amount of braising. I like to use my slow cooker for this as it’s so easy to just pop in and forget about it…

    • says

      You’re right, Simone, a slow cooker would work just as well… but I figured since I already had to dirty a pan to sear the meat, might as well do it directly in the Dutch oven… Plus, I haven’t developed a reflex of using my slow cooker yet. This contraption is still very new to me. ;)

  2. says

    I personally had never any concerns eating any kind of food only now when I am grown up have to resist my temptations. Anyways I know how excellent this food tastes and the corriander and black pepper surely adds to the delight. Nice Sonia :)

  3. Manon says

    Looks delicious ! Je veux commander ma demi carcasse chez Rheintal alors je recueille les recettes de porc ! Des recommandations/trucs pour une telle commande ?

    • says

      En fait, pas vraiment de trucs, Manon. Guylaine te passera un coup de fil après que tu aies placé ta commande pour revoir les coupes que tu désires. Elle est vraiment super gentille et prendra le temps de t’expliquer tes options. Assure-toi simplement de récupérer le plus possible de la carcasse, comme le gras de dos et la panne, pour rendre ton lard, les os, pour faire tes bouillons, et spécifie si tu veux les abats, la tête et la queue. Ah, et si tu veux faire de la saucisse, demande aussi à récupérer les boyaux! Après tout, tu payes pour tout ça, aussi bien le récupérer! :)

  4. says

    I was just drooling over the succulent pork photo you posted on Tastespotting, but, now, I’m distracted by all the French! Are you a fluent French speaker or was that Google translator? I, too, am a healthy foodie (or trying to be healthy foodie) who has a slight obsession with everything French. In fact, I’m going to Paris next week and plan to do a couple “How to Eat Healthy in Paris” blogs when I’m there. :)

    • says

      Actually, Michelle, French would be my mother tongue… so yeah, I would say I am a fluent French speaker! ;) I am from Quebec, Canada, though, so our French is fairly different from that which you will hear when you visit Paris… Have fun visiting, by the way. I’m sure you’ll get many very interesting blog posts out of this experience!

    • Manon says

      Sorry for using French… I was asking Sonia to tell me about her experience in buying 1/2 pastured pork :) Hope you have a great time in Paris, Michelle !

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