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Braised Pork Shanks

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

Incredibly cheap and utterly delicious. I find it difficult to get them here, so I book them in advance at the butcher's.



Ingredients (serves 3):

  • 2 pork shanks

  • 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary

  • 2 Tbsp of chopped fresh sage (I cannot seem to grow it, so I often end up using dry sage, in that case use 1 Tbsp only, as too much sage gives it a bitter flavour)

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 4 juniper berries

  • 1 big carrot

  • 2 stalks of celery

  • 1 medium brown onion (don't use the red ones)

  • 4 medium garlic cloves

  • Fine ground salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 Lt. good red wine (it does not need to be old, but it's better if it's a little sweet and spicy, for example any wine from the south of Italy would work great. If you only have a dry red, then use a red onion instead to balance it out and provide sweetness)

  • A couple of slugs of olive oil


Method:

  • Wash the shanks very well

  • Remove the rind from the shanks in a thin layer (do not remove the grease with it) and set aside

  • Remove and discard all visible fat

  • Finely chop your vegetables and put them in a container capable of holding both shanks (even a food plastic bag would work), add the chopped herbs (but leave the bay leaves whole), the juniper berries, the seasoning, the shanks, the rind, and pour over the red wine until it covers everything quite well

  • Give it a good mix, then leave covered in the fridge overnight

  • First thing in the morning, turn the shanks and put back in the fridge again

  • When ready to cook: drain the shanks and the rind and pat them dry

  • Strain the vegetables and the herbs, reserving the liquid, and try and absorb as much moisture from them as possible

  • Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees C

  • Put a slug of olive oil in a pot that can be used both on the hob and in the oven, with tall sides, and add the vegetables and herbs

  • Stir fry for a little while, do not let it go brown though

  • Add the shanks to the pot and let them brown well on both sides (use tongs to turn them over, not a fork, otherwise you'd be piercing the meat)

  • Add the reserved wine to the pot, keeping it 1 cm from the top of the meat

  • Add the rind

  • Reduce the oven temperature to 140 degrees C and bake covered in the middle shelf for 3 hours

  • At half time, turn the shanks over and re-cover the pot, there should still be a lot of liquid left, but if it's not enough, add some hot vegetable or chicken broth (yeah, using a cube here is fine, you won't notice)

  • You know they're ready when the meat falls off the bone and the meat is soft like butter

  • Take the shanks off the pot, wrap them into tinfoil and then in a folded towel and set aside

  • Take the rind from the pot and pat it dry

  • Bake the rind on a baking tray fat side down at 200 degrees C for some 10 mins, to reach the "crackling" stage

  • Strain the liquid through a fine sieve and put the pot on the hob on medium/high heat (discard the vegetables and herbs) until it bubbles away

  • Dissolve 1 tbsp of cornflour into a small cup (expresso cups are perfect) of cold liquid: either some more red wine, or cold broth, or even water

  • Stirring continuously, add the cornflour mixture to the sauce and check the sauce is thick enough

  • Repeat with another tsp of cornflour in another small cup if you need to thicken it more

  • Cut the shanks in slices (well, it will be pieces, as there's the bone in the middle) and spoon some sauce over them, serving the remaining sauce in a bowl

  • Add slices of rind on top and serve


If you don't have time! (well, you still need 3:30 hours)

  • Obviously no marinade

  • So skin the shanks, wash both the rind and the shanks and pat dry them

  • Put them in your deep oven tin, drizzle with olive oil and turn them, massaging the oil

  • Mix the garlic, sage, rosemary, salt, and pepper in a bowl

  • Sprinkle your spice mix on the shanks, both sides, and massage it well

  • Add the red wine, then cover it with tinfoil tighting it around the edges

  • Put them in the oven at 170 degrees C for 3 hours, adding the rind on the side

  • Turn the shanks after 2 hours, unravel the rind so that it crackles also on the other side, remove the tinfoil


  • Once ready, strain the juices and pour them into a pot

  • (in the meantime, the shanks should be kept wrapped tightly in tinfoil, and if the rind hasn't crackled enough, put it onto a baking tray and back into the oven at 200 degrees C for 10 mins)

  • Mix 1 Tbsp of cornflour with 1 Tbsp of red wine, mixing well: it cannot be a paste, so if it is, add another Tbsp

  • Add the cornflour mix to the pot with the juices and stir for a couple of mins, it should work and it should reach a good gravy consistency

  • Slice the shanks and serve them topped with the crackled rind cut in slices with the sauce on the side

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