Bruce Aidells' Stinco (Braised and Roasted Pork Shanks)
Shanks are often overlooked when it comes to choosing a meat for braising, especially in the home kitchen. Sure, intrepid cooks may simmer osso bucco once in a lifetime, but it's rare to see a shank or two appear on the table. In The Great Meat Cookbook, Bruce Aidells presents a great case for bringing pork shanks to the holiday table with his recipe for Stinco. For this Italian-style pot roast, Aidells braises a couple of meaty shanks in a sumptuous sauce of white wine, porcinis, and prosciutto until quiveringly tender. The shanks then get a quick blast in a hot oven to brown and are then served on a soft bed of mashed potatoes, perfect for sopping up all of the potent sauce. The shanks make for an unconventional, yet dignified centerpiece for just about any holiday table.
Why I picked this recipe: "Stinco" was just too-humorous of a name to pass up. Also, pork shanks have all of the fat, gelatin, and marrow-y goodness that make for a fabulous braise.
What worked: Another elegant and easy recipe from Aidells; just about everything was on point.
What didn't: It took me about 30 minutes longer than written to fully tenderize the shanks. Also, when reducing the braising liquid after removing the shanks, be sure to scrape down any browned bits from the sides of the pan (I had lots, and those bits added tons of flavor to the sauce).
Suggested tweaks: If you've got extra bacon lying around the house, you could certainly swap that in for the prosciutto. Aidells also suggests veal or lamb shanks as a substitute for pork.