Monday, October 26, 2015

The shank of the evening

Yesterday morning, Farmer Bev handed me a couple of packages of pork shanks, sliced osso bucco style. I meandered through the rest of the market, picking up various odds and ends that might go well with them -- carrots and celery and fennel at New Morning Farm, onions at Twin Springs, leeks at Spring Valley -- and finally wobbled home on a very loaded Ollie. For this first installment of Ibti's Offal Adventures, I offer a recipe I adapted from Epicurious, enjoyed just this evening by my fellow Slow Foodies at our monthly board meeting:

Braised Pork Shank with White Wine and Veggies

  • 1 handful dried mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 fresh pork shanks, cut into thirds, skins removed
    (No, I didn't waste the skins, thank you very much, I saved them for my landlady's 3 dogs.)
  • 3 TBSP olive oil + a bit more for the final meat searing
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 handful diced carrots
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 handful diced celery
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup dry white wine (I had a semi decent pinot grigio on hand)
  • 1 cup broth (Thank you, GrowingSOUL, for my quart of Putting Stock in Your Community artisanal chicken stock!)
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh sage (from one of the school gardens I manage)
  • 2 TBSP chopped fresh rosemary (from my front steps -- doesn't get more local than that)
  • 1 handful chopped fresh parsley (also from my school garden)
Preheat oven to 325F. Open the wine and pour yourself a glass. I mean, you've got to be sure it will go well with braised pork.

Pour 1 cup boiling water over the mushrooms and let stand until mushrooms soften. Drain and chop mushrooms, reserving the delicious soaking liquid.

Meanwhile, sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy cast iron pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork, in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total. Transfer the browned pork to a rimmed baking sheet or lasagne pan.

Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrots, leek, celery, and fennel. Cook until vegetables are soft and beginning to color, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.

Stir in garlic and chopped mushrooms. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add broth, reserved mushroom soaking liquid, and 1 TBSP each of sage, rosemary, and parsley. It's probably time for another glass of wine as you marvel at how amazing your kitchen is starting to smell.

Return pork and any accumulated juices to pot, arranging in single layer. Place pot in oven and cover with a lid or foil or, if you're a foil conserving loony like me, an inverted stainless steel bowl. Braise pork until very tender, turning over every 30 minutes, for about 90 minutes total. I put the baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven just in case my deep skillet spilled over. (Apparently, this part of the recipe can be made up to 2 days ahead. Simply cook things to this point, then cool slightly, refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Simmer until just warm before continuing.)

Heat oven to 425F. Transfer pork to rimmed baking sheet. Brush with olive oil; sprinkle with remaining sage and rosemary, and a few grinds of black pepper. Roast pork until browned, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, tilt the pan and spoon any fat from surface of sauce. Scoop out the veggies and keep them warm in another pan.Boil your original pot/pan until the sauce lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Divide veggies among serving bowls, top with pork and sauce, and sprinkle with another handful of chopped parsley. If any of that wine remains, go ahead and offer some to your guests. (But if not it's okay, we don't judge here. Just open another bottle.) Enjoy!

I'm thinking some kind of Mexican-inspired chocolate mole sauce for the other shanks I'll be testing out with mom and dad next weekend. But if you have suggestions, readers, please send 'em along!

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