Adventures in nose-to-tail cooking…

With pork supplies running low this year I thought there would never be a better time to spend time exploring nose-to-tail cooking. Often our family’s meals are determined by what is available that isn’t fit for retail sales. Packages that have lost their seal or items that have spent a bit too much time in the freezer, still delicious but maybe not as visually appealing. But this would be a new adventure, working with cuts that aren’t what you would typically find in a retail setting.

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For my first attempt I looked through the boxes of odd cuts – boxes of hearts, neck bones, trotters, and fat – and found a couple nice packages of pork shanks. A pork shank is similar to a hock, you will often find them brined and smoked making them great for soups and beans dishes. The shanks pictured are completely raw which makes them perfect for braising, or another similar method of low, slow, wet cooking.

20181001_152048Often when trying a new recipe for the first time I’ll read through 3 or 4 similar recipes and combine them, and this was no exception. I settled on mostly following a recipe in the great cook book – Beyond Bacon by Stacy Tosh and Matthew McCarry. They suggested using a dutch oven and other recipes called for a pressure cooker, but we only had a large stock pot available, so you can use what you have.

After letting the shanks thaw completely I dried them off and seasoned them with salt. Allowing them to season in the cooler for about 6 hours. During that time I diced up some veggies – onions, celery, and carrots. I also put together a cheese cloth pouch with rosemary, thyme, cloves, and bay leaves.

20181001_152857Once I had all the ingredients ready I coated the shanks in a flour, salt, and pepper mixture and browned each side in lard. After removing the shanks I added a bit more lard and sauteed the veggies until they started to soften, about 8 minutes. Then I deglazed the pot with a cup of dry white wine, scraping up all the tasty bits from the bottom. Returning the now browned shanks to the pot and adding 2 cups of bone broth and 2 cup of chicken stock. I brought the liquid to a boil before covering and simmering for 4 hours. The smell throughout the house was driving everyone crazy all afternoon.  Basically we were making pork broth with bone broth and chicken stock. The final ingredient is the juice from one lemon and the final step is a Pobanz family cooking secret.

Years ago after Kristan made a wonderful turkey that she had stuffed with garlic, onions, carrots, and celery. The recipe she was using called for her to discard the veggies after the turkey was cooked, but in a flash of brilliance she used an immersion blender on everything except the turkey and created an amazing and healthy gravy.

I did the same with the broth and veggies after I removed the shanks, which were now falling apart. Pictured with roasted acorn squash from Iron Creek Organic Farm, my market neighbors at the Green City Market. {Recipe and Ingredient list below}

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Porko Bucco and roasted acorn squash

Ingredients –

  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup flour {I used a GF alternative}
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 2 fresh shanks or hocks
  • 3 T lard
  • 1 cup onions
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 cup carrots
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 3 cups stock or broth
  • Juice of 1 Lemon

Recipe –

  1. Make cheesecloth pouch of herbs
  2. Coat shanks in flour, salt, and pepper
  3. Brown shanks and then remove from heat
  4. Saute veggies until soft
  5. Deglaze pan with wine – don’t forget the bits!
  6. Return shanks to pot and add broth and herbs
  7. Bring to boil before covering and reducing heat
  8. Simmer for 3-4 hours – enjoy smelling heaven…
  9. Add Lemon Juice
  10. Remove meat and herb pouch from liquid
  11. Blend to create gravy
  12. Enjoy!

Recipe used from Beyond Bacon with some inspirations…

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Porko Bucco dressed with Kristan’s secret gravy
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