Feature by Ed Diller | Photos by Will Marks
Gypsy Kitchen has their epicurean friend, Dave Diffendal, to thank for this idea. Pork cooperates very nicely with lots of different ingredients. Fresh pork shanks—which you may have never seen at the meat counter because they are usually smoked, therefore becoming ham shanks—are the star in this dish. Happily, they are very inexpensive. They are locally available at Groff’s Meats in Elizabethtown, or you can ask about them at your favorite butcher shop—but you may have to buy a large quantity.
Braised Fresh PORK SHANK
4 fresh pork shanks, rubbed with olive oil and lots of coarse salt and pepper, and a little flour— optional but will enhance browning
4 large carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
2 large onions, peeled and cut into chunks
ó head of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
2 bulbs of fennel, peeled
2 leeks, washed and roughly cut
1 T dried thyme
1 large glass red wine
1 large glass white wine
1 glass chicken stock
5 anchovies, finely chopped—the flavor is subtle enough to not be recognized as anchovies!
Preheat oven to 475° F
Put all ingredients except seasoned shanks into a roasting pan or Le Creuset pot. Place rubbed shanks fat side up in pot (liquid should come about halfway up the shanks). Place in hot oven with convection on, if available.
After 30 to 40 minutes, with the fat nicely browned, turn the shanks over and reduce oven temperature to 300°.
Cook for 3 ó to 4 hours (the interior temperature should reach 180°). The shanks should be perfectly tender, but not falling apart. You want a nice brown color (called the Maillard reaction).
Big disclosure: We do not carefully measure when we assemble. The result will be deliciously different every time. You can add rutabagas, turnips, parsnips, sweet potatoes, potatoes… You can even substitute oregano for the thyme. Have fun. Be creative!