Worst. Jew. Ever.
When it came time to cook for some family and friends, I could have gone with the holiday staples of Lamb or Veal, but I just couldn’t pass up this opportunity to cook up 12lbs. of Pork Shanks! Not only is it way cheaper than Lamb or Veal, but it’s much more forgiving, and super tasty! I decided on a slow braise, and I think it was a good choice. Here’s how I did it!
Braised Pork Shanks with Cabbage and Brussels(can be scaled down)
4 Pork Shanks
3 Cups of Chicken Stock
2 Cups of Red Wine
1/2 Stalk of Celery
4 Large Shallots
1 Lg. Can Skinless Ripe Tomatoes
8 Cloves Garlic
2 Handfuls of Fennel Tops
1 Tbsp. Black Peppercorns
1 Tbsp. Green Peppercorns
1 Dried Pasilla Chile, seeds removed(or 1 tsp Chile Powder)
1 Star Anise
1 Bay Leaf
1 Tsp Dried Rosemary
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
Salt to Taste
1 1/2 Lbs of Brussell Sprouts
Salt and Pepper
1 Red Cabbage
2 Shallots, sliced
1 Tbsp Pork Fat or oil
1 Tbsp Salt
Black Pepper to taste
The first step is to get the pork ready. I debated for a while about cooking with the skin on, but I didn’t want too much fat, or a rubbery slow cooked pork skin. I removed the skin, but tried to keep as much of the white fat on the shanks as possible.
Next I salted the shanks liberally, and seared them in the pot that I would use to braise them. The goal here was to get a nice color on the meat, but also reserve the fat and browning on the bottom of the pan to build the layers of flavor.
Once the shanks had a nice color, I removed them from the pan and started building the base of the braise.
I started by adding the Shallots, Celery, Garlic and Fennel tops, so they would soak up the fat in the bottom of the pan. After a couple minutes of cooking, I added the red wine, which deglazed the browned bits of meat stuck to the bottom of the pan. After a couple more minutes I added the tomatoes, chicken stock and other dry ingredients. I cooked these together for a couple more minutes before adding the shanks back into the pot.
After squeezing all four shanks into the pot, I then added another cup of stock to make sure the shanks were mostly submerged. I put them in a 350° oven and headed off to the grocery store for some last minute shopping. These take at least 3-4 hours to cook, but I left them in for almost 5 hours while I worked on other dishes and the accompanying sides for the shanks. Be sure to turn them a few times during the braise so the bits sticking out of the stock don’t get too charred.
The Brussels Sprouts came on a stalk, which was 4 dollars. Another great way to feed the family on a budget. I decided to keep it simple. Cut into half or quarters depending on their size, I then tossed the Brussels in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven at 350° until browned. About 40 minutes.
The cabbage was equally simple. I used some pork fat which I had rendered from the leftover pork skins, and cooked the shallots for a couple minutes. I then added all the cabbage and a large pinch of salt. I occasionally stirred the cabbage until it had all softened, about 20 minutes.
While you’re still waiting for the pork to finish braising, why not spend some time with the family! This is my brother and sister-in-law, with my new niece Madeline! They ventured out of the house and joined us for dinner. They have a great blog and podcast about Madeline. If you’re interested in baby related things, and the experience they’ve had, check it out at www.babystraightalk.com.
5 hours later.. Check back on the shanks. When you try to move them and they fall apart, they’re done!
This is only three of the pork bones with a fraction of the meat. The actual yield of awesome meat was about three times as much. As you can see, I couldn’t even get the shanks out in one piece, the meat was so tender. In retrospect, I probably could have pulled these out about a half hour earlier to keep them whole and have a better appearance, but I don’t think the family minded.
Strain the braising liquid and reduce it down. Seriously, the best gravy I’ve ever had. Rich and salty with just a tiny punch of spiciness at the end.
And Voila! I put the Cabbage on the bottom, surrounded by the Brussels and then finished the dish with a sprinkling of pickled onions and radish. I glazed the meat with some of the gravy, and also served a big bowl of mashed potatoes on the side. It made for a good family-style holiday main course. Not to mention, I have 6 lbs. of leftover braised pork meat in my fridge. Leftover sandwiches and pork pasties have been awesome!
Enjoying the blog? Try any of the recipes out? Want to see anything specific cooked? I’m like a dancing monkey, here for your entertainment! I’m eager to please so post a comment below and I’ll try to cook it up!