I’ve become enamoured of pork shanks, thanks to our local Mexican restaurant. Their chamorritos are delectable, tidy little ankle bones of small pigs, lined up neatly on the plate, swimming in a warm, slightly sweet sauce.
The pork shanks I brought home with me bore no resemblance to their elegant Mexican cousins. These were brutish, relatively huge, pork that had been finished on hazelnuts in Oregon and had evidently thrived on them.
Nonetheless, I made a delicious dish with them, using a lot of a very dry Amontillado that I didn’t enjoy drinking, and lots of sweet, smoky pimenton.
It looked like hell on wheels, there’s no denying it. You can’t serve this in a restaurant. You can’t serve this to company unless they’re good friends who love food and are not put off by homely dishes. But you can make it anytime you need a slightly exotic but very comforting dish. You low-carbers can eat the delicious fat that rings the shank, and believe me when I say that pork fat that was raised on hazelnuts is exceptionally delicious.
Pork Shanks with Amontillado and Pimenton
3 lbs pork shanks, cut for osso buco
3 T olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1 onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp pimenton dulce
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 cups Amontillado sherry
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 325°. Rub the pork shanks with salt. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy, lidded pot. Brown the shanks well on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Add diced vegetables to the pan, and sauté for a few minutes, until the vegetables just begin to get golden.
Add the pimenton, bay leaves, and black pepper and sauté for a minute or two until the spices are fragrant. Add sherry and chicken broth. Return the pork shanks to pan, all in one layer. The liquid should be at least halfway up the sides of the shanks, if not add a little more sherry or broth.
Cover the pot tightly and place in oven. Let cook for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, turning the meat once during that period. Remove pot from oven and carefully pull the meat and skin off the bones, shredding it coarsely into the sauce. Taste for salt and pepper.
This is very nice served with a sauté of green beans, red peppers, and shallots.