Nothing says the beginning of fall to me like a delicious braised pork shank. When the weather starts to get cooler, I pull out my enameled cast iron stockpot and start using it daily. It’s the perfect equipment to use for braising meats because it is ovenproof and provides even heating. Cast iron also gets super hot and holds the heat which makes it the best choice for searing meat.
Pork shanks are an often underutilized cut of pork. Because this cut comes from the front leg of the pig, it can be chewy and tough if not cooked properly. This tends to make it a less desirable cut. “Slow and low” is the cooking mantra with pork shanks. They are perfect for braising, and they are packed with flavor. One of the keys to a great braised pork shank is searing it before braising. When you sear the meat, you seal in the juices. This means that the fat in between the meat on the shank will render as it braises and slowly cook and coat the meat. This is what makes properly cooked pork shanks so amazing!
Use this recipe as a guide for imparting other flavors to your pork shanks. For an Italian flair, add tomato paste after you saute the vegetables. In addition to the thyme, add a sprig of rosemary. Serve your pork shank in a shallow bowl with the vegetables and sauce. In the unlikely event that you have leftovers, freeze the the meat and use in a pasta dish later.