Pork ShankOctober 31, 2006
When I read Bill Buford’s Heat I was fascinated by some of the old Chianti cuisine that is explained in there. One recipe was an ultra simple beef shank cooked very slowly. I had a pork shank in stock so I decided to adapt Buford’s take on to the pork and try to fancy it up a little bit with a cooking juices “monté au beurre”. First let’s talk about music.
I started making some racket in my own home for the past few days and this recipe was performed listening to a selection of noise releases from around the planet. First was Brise Cul Records’ Drone Season I. This drone compilation is the first in a series, first of two as of now, coming from my good friend Martin. Compiling tracks from Broken Sleep, Habeeb, MOZ, Narcotic Dreams, Pulse Emitter, Roxanne Jean Polise, Scant Intone and Warning Broken machine this compilation pretty much covers everything possible in drone: from laptop based to synth and all analog approaches. A very nice compilation, although not as good as the next one, it gives you a nice over view of what is out there in the drone world, bleak and monotone, just the way I like it.
Next was Pulse Emitter’s Mountain. This is a completely insane release in a pure drone fashion as it goes on for minutes and minutes before you have any emotional reaction to the drone. Everything is so bleak and even that you feel like there is nothing that will ever happen in this thing, yet it is strangely gripping. You always expect something to come down but it never happens and yet you feel amazingly satisfied that it doesn’t. This is one of the most impressive drone releases ever, everything for the a.d.d. sufferer.
This one was closely followed by a Boris and Merzbow collaboration called Sun Baked Sun. Merzbow shouldn’t need any introduction at this point as he is the godfather of noise and have been perhaps the most important figure in noise for the past 20 years. Boris are relatively new on the block switching from metal/doom to noisy experimentation from album to album and at the same time gathering more fans from one album to the other. Both Japanese heavyweights collaborate here for a relatively happy voyage through guitar and electronics soundscapes that combine what both do fairly well, Merzbow seemingly taking control at some point and not giving it back. Nevertheless, a thoroughly enjoyable release by the good people at Hydrahead.
On to the recipe
- 2 pork shanks, with skin and all
- 1 head of garlic
- 1 Bottle of italian wine, best with a hearty complex wine (buy two, one for drinking with the meal)
- ¼ cup of sea salt
- 2 tablespoons of cold butter, in half inch cubes
- 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 branch of rosemary
- Olive oil
Serves 2. I served with some roasted potatoes, nothing fancy.
This recipe is easy as can be but still takes time. First, in a large bowl, put the shanks and add enough salted water to cover. Put in your fridge for at least 24 hours. After the 24 hours, take out the shanks and rinse them thoroughly under the tap. Add the shanks to a dutch oven with the content of that bottle of wine and the full head of garlic, no need to peel it. Put in a preheated oven at 175-200 for at least 12 hours, I went for 18. This will be best re-heated so put the cooled down dutch oven in the fridge for a while.
Once ready to eat, take out the dutch oven and scrap out some of that upper fat on top, no reason to go overboard, the shank is fat enough as it is. Put the dutch oven over low heat for about 15-20 minutes. Take out the pieces of shank and get rid of the skin, some of the fat, keep some for crying out loud its divine, and reserve the re-heated meat. In a frying pan, over high heat, put some oil and the garlic, let the garlic quickly soften and ladle a good 3-4 ladles of the cooking juices in the pan, or eyeball how much sauce you want. Add the whole branch of rosemary. Let reduce at least in half and add the cold butter. The sauce should bubble away until it reaches a sauce consistency. Adjust seasoning and pour over the meat, go easy on the salt of the sauce because the pork has been sitting in brine for a day so the bigger pieces will have a salty taste so you don’t want that to overpower your dish. Voilà!
This recipe might not be the greatest idea for a first date but if you are entertaining a few people, it requires very little attention, except when doing the sauce, takes very little time to do and if you have foodie friends they will gush at the deep flavour everything has here. It is however a freaking heart attack in a dish and is quite fatty. The good news is that pork shank is one of those wonderful forgotten parts that you can get at the butcher for very little money. The only significant investment here is the wine so choose a pretty good one.