Ingredients

Pork shank and hock

Other Names: Chamorro or codillo (Spanish), foreshank, hindshank, hock, jambonneau (French, hindshank), osso buco (round bone slice), stinco (Italian, whole), trotter, zampino (Italian, lower portion).

General Description: Pork shanks (NAMP 401D, 417) are cut from the lower portion of the rear and front legs of the pig. This cut, with its deep flavor, can be braised whole or cut into cross sections for a less-expensive alternative to veal osso buco. Pork shank meat becomes silky and luscious when cooked slowly at low heat.

Pork hocks (NAMP 417A) are the lower portion of the shank, traditionally used in Eastern European and American Southern cooking. Hocks lend themselves to numerous comfort-foods. Pork hocks make a tasty flavoring for soups, bean dishes, and stocks.

Part of Animal: The shank is the portion below the knee of the rear legs, above or below the knee joint for front legs.

Characteristics: Pork shanks are composed of many small, tough muscles connected by cartilage. They are relatively lean, once the fat is trimmed, and full of natural gelatin. Front leg shanks will be smaller and milder in flavor than rear leg shanks.

How to Choose: Fresh pork shank will probably need to be specially ordered, because much of it gets turned into smoked hocks. You may also buy crosscut sections of shank, cut at least 2 inches thick, which are easier and a bit quicker to cook than whole.

Amount to Buy: A whole pork shank weighs 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds. Allow 1/2 to 3/4 pound of shank per person, because of the weight of the bone.

Storage: Pork shanks are often found frozen and can be kept frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight. Refrigerate fresh pork shanks up to 4 days.

Preparation:

  1. Tie shanks with butcher’s string to keep whole.
  2. Brown shanks on all sides in oil in a Dutch oven, turning several times. Remove and keep warm.
  3. Drain off and discard most of the fat from the pot. Add aromatic vegetables, then add broth or wine.
  4. Place the shanks back into the pot and bring to a boil. Cover and braise in the oven for about 2 hours at low temperature (300°F), turning once, until the shanks are tender but still whole.
  5. Remove the shanks from the oven; allow the shanks to cool in the liquid to firm before handling them. Cut off the strings and let the shanks cool completely, then refrigerate overnight.
  6. Take out of the refrigerator, remove the fat, and reheat in the braising liquid.

Flavor Affinities: Caraway seed, fennel, figs, garlic, horseradish, lemons, marjoram, oranges, parsley, prosciutto, rosemary, sage, sauerkraut, thyme, tomatoes, vinegar, white wine.

from Quirk Books: www.quirkbooks.com