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Well Worth the Wait(Recipe: Orange and Rosemary Braised Pork Shanks)

March 4, 2012
pork shanks, sweetwater farms, copper pennies 010

I gained a new perspective on shank possibilities on a recent trip to Colonial Williamsburg, one of my favorite places on the face of the planet.  I ordered Braised Pork Shanks off a restaurant menu because, to my knowledge, I had never eaten pork shanks and love to try new foods.  While the food was being prepared, a Google search on the ol’ Blackberry  taught me that smoked pork shanks are commonly called ham hocks when they’re smoked.  Ham hocks! I had stars in my eyes, instantly.  Maybe the stars were actually tears.  I felt like I needed to dance.   My husband didn’t agree.  Bless his heart.  He’s not a foodie.  Don’t get me wrong.  When he likes food he really likes it.    However, he doesn’t get excited about food.   He’s never had the wonderful experience of swooning over good food.   That enthusiasm can’t be taught.  It’s coded in your DNA.  I’m sorry he missed out on that coding.  Who knows what he was doing the day it got passed out.  I, on the other hand, was the first person in line.  Food thrills me.  Everything about it thrills me.  I can truthfully say, “I’m in love with food.”

While service was wonderful at our restaurant, my excitement and anticipation made it seem like it took  forever to get my pork shank meal.  I felt as though I would burst wide open trying to be patient.  The wait was well worth it.   The pork shanks were butter tender and flavorful.  I promised myself to diligently search for fresh pork shanks as soon as we got back home. To my surprise, the butcher at my local grocery was more than willing to accommodate my request.  He explained to me that they only received one fresh ham per day and cut the shanks from that. The daily yield is but two. He went on to say he’d be happy to save them up for me.  After expressing my sincere gratitude , I asked him to call me when he had six. That’s exactly what he did. Customer service is still alive and well at Publix grocery stores.  At least in the meat department. At least in the meat department of the store where I shop.

This inexpensive cut of meat has all but been forgotten except for being used to cure for ham hocks.  The toughness requires a long cooking time which suits me just fine.  I love nothing better than meat dishes that can be put together rather quickly and then popped in the oven for a long cook time requiring no attention.

In preparation for this meal, I set out in my yard to gather what I thought would add flavor.  I believe if it grows together, it goes together, so I’m comfortable experimenting with different combinations of what ever happens to be in season.  I wound up with oranges, rosemary and parsley. That combination isn’t written in stone and can easily be changed season to season. If those items aren’t available to you, substitute anything you can get your hands on. In slow cooking dishes, the flavors blend together and nothing stands out.  They’re complementary and kind to each other.  Try apples, thyme and sage.  Or peaches, rosemary and parsley.  The sky’s the limit.

Y’all come see us!

Orange and Rosemary Braised Pork Shanks

Orange and Rosemary Braised Pork Shanks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 to 5 pounds fresh pork shanks (skin on)

1/4 cup flour

1 tablespoon homemade taco seasoning and meat rub (or use your favorite seasoning or meat rub)

1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil, divided

3 cups good quality stock (homemade or commercial)

2 cups white wine

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced

3 carrots

2 celery stalks, including leaves

2 oranges, sliced

2 bay leaves

1 spring fresh rosemary

1 bunch fresh parsley

salt and  pepper to taste

cornstarch, optional (for thickening the braising liquid)

Mix together flour and seasoning.  Lightly coat pork shanks.   Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, and sear shanks on all sides.

Seared pork shanks

Remove from skillet when browned.  Add onions and more olive oil if necessary.  Cook onions until they begin to brown slightly.  Add garlic and cook for an additional  2 minutes.  Pour stock in skillet and scrape all the pieces from the bottom. Add wine  and put shanks back in the  pot.  They need to be mostly covered with liquid.

The pot with only a few of the ingredients: onions, garlic, stock ,wine and pork shanks

Place carrots, celery, oranges, rosemary, parsley and bay leaves on top.  Cover well.

This is how the pot looks with everybody in.

Cover tightly.  Cook at 300 degrees for 3 to 4 hours or until the pork shanks are tender and falling off the bone.

  

After 4 hours of slow cooking....the meat is falling off the bone tender

 

Remove meat.  Strain liquid. Cook on medium-high until reduced by half.  If the gravy is not thickened to your liking at the end of the cooking time, dissolve about one teaspoon of cornstarch in some water and add it back to the gravy while it’s boiling.  It will thicken almost immediately.  Remove skin and bones from the pork shanks and add them back to the gravy.  Taste for seasoning and adjust. Serve over cooked rice.

  

Fork tender, melt in your mouth goodness over rice

 

You might also enjoy this recipe:

Braised Beef Shanks

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25 Comments leave one →
  1. Kurt permalink
    March 4, 2012 9:00 pm

    Good gosh, that’s looks to die for. Its a simple southern dish with a twist. Keep em coming Jackie !

  2. Ann permalink
    March 5, 2012 8:24 am

    I’d never heard of pork shanks either – who knew!! Now if I can find some, I will have to try this – sounds delish! Thanks

    • March 5, 2012 8:30 am

      Ann,
      You will probably have to talk to your butcher like I did! I hope you can get some. This is an economical, delicious dish. :)

  3. Janice Marra permalink
    March 5, 2012 9:03 am

    Yummy!! I can’t wait to try this one.Always looking for good recipes to serve the family.This sounds so good.A real comfort meal.Thanks Jackie.

    • March 5, 2012 1:10 pm

      Janice,
      I hope you and your family enjoy this great dish! I love how it turned out. :)

  4. Danny Taylor permalink
    March 5, 2012 10:20 am

    I don’t even know if they know what a hog is out here in Arizona but if I can find some good pork shanks, I”m going to try this one for sure!!! I guess we share the food excitement gene cuz….I’m salivating in streams now just thinking about this one!!! Thanks for the good works!

    • March 5, 2012 1:09 pm

      Danny,
      It sure seams like you’re settling in quite nicely in your new surroundings. Good luck with you hunt for pork shanks! :)

      • Danny Taylor permalink
        March 5, 2012 9:08 pm

        Yes we are Jackie…yes we are!!

  5. March 5, 2012 10:36 am

    Jackie, you know I understand totally! It’s in my DNA too. Big time. Both excellent food and exquisite prose have the potential of making me gasp with pleasure! That’s why you had me in the first paragraph :) At the risk of repeating myself – have I told you lately that I love you? I can hardly wait to share this post!
    P.S. Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places on the face of the planet, too! Are we related? God bless you, dear friend :)

    • March 5, 2012 1:07 pm

      Michele,
      We are Southern sistahs, no doubt. We don’t have to “blood kin” to be related!

      P.S. I love you, too! :)

  6. Mary permalink
    March 5, 2012 12:18 pm

    Will definitely be talking to my butcher!!! These look so good, and I can almost smell them cookin’-yum! yum! Another dish to look forward to – the wait will be well worth it!! Thanks Jackie!

  7. March 8, 2012 2:08 pm

    I found you off Twitter, I love finding other food bloggers in Florida.

    This recipe looks delicious! I can’t wait to try it.

    • March 9, 2012 7:46 am

      Hi Andi!
      In what part of Florida are you located? Will you be attending the Food Blog Forum at Disney World this year? :)

  8. March 11, 2012 3:40 am

    one of my favorite pork dishes is very similar to this except that i use loin and apricot rather than shank and apricot. the rosemary is awesome!

  9. March 12, 2012 8:49 pm

    Jackie, these look DIVINE. All of your cooking does, so, I don’t know why I am in awe. Hope you can cook for me and the sis one day. I haven’t been stopping by in a while…it feels like home. BTW LOVE the new look of your site! :0)

    • March 13, 2012 8:33 am

      Tamika,

      I’ve been missing you! So glad you popped by. Thanks you for your sweet comments.

      I’m pleased with the site, too! It came out just the way I had hoped! :)

  10. March 13, 2012 5:39 pm

    This looks excellent! I’m definitely bookmarking this one. Love the idea of orange and rosemary.

  11. March 19, 2012 12:25 am

    Oh wow, this sounds amazing. The combination of flavors in here is wonderful! Definitely trying this one. Great job, Jackie!

    • March 20, 2012 11:43 am

      Janet,

      Thanks so much for your sweet comment. I hope you give this recipe a try. It’s one of my favorites! :)

  12. June 11, 2012 5:32 am

    Oh my word! This sounds delicious! I’m going to have to see if our local pork store will save me some shanks. First, though, I have to figure out what they’re called in Spanish. haha

    • June 11, 2012 8:34 am

      Kim,

      I hope you can find some fresh pork shanks and make this dish. I’ll try to find out how to say “fresh pork shank” in Spanish! :)

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