Have you had braised pork shanks? Well if you have, I’m here to help you take this amazing comfort dish to the next level. Smoking the pork before a nice long braise will add incredible flavor to the dish. This recipe for Smoked and Braised Pork Shanks is easy if a bit time-consuming. But, you’ll be so happy you made it for the cold winter nights.
Veal shanks are famous for Osso Bucco, and I’ve seen braised pork shanks called “Porko Bucco” before. Pork shanks are from the front legs of the pig and are full of collagen and connective tissue. They demand a slow cook in order to turn the tough meat into succulent pork. Braising is the most common way. You could actually just smoke them for a couple of hours, then wrap in foil and cook until tender. They develop a better flavor when you combine methods, however.
Getting them ready
There is no trim work needed for pork shanks. If you tried, you would end up with nothing but the bone! So, simply remove from the package, rinse and pat dry, the season. For this recipe, I used my Bold Seasoning, then added a layer of Italian seasoning. Prepare your smoker to run at 275-300 degrees. For this recipe, I used pecan wood, which is a good, neutral smoke flavor. Smoke the shanks for 1.5 hours, then put into the braising liquid.
All about the Braise
The braising liquid is very important, as it’s going to turn into a delicious pork gravy for your meal. Traditionally, you would sear the pork shanks in the braising pan before adding other ingredients. With the smoking method, I start straightaway with cooking carrots, onions, garlic, bell pepper, and celery. Add tomato sauce, deglaze with some good wine, add some chicken stock and you’ll be ready!
After the braising liquid is ready, put the shanks in an aluminum pan and add the liquid. Continue to cook them for 2 to 2.5 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
Smoked and Braised Pork Shanks
After cooking, remove the shanks from the liquid, cover with foil and keep warm. Pour the braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan and press the vegetables to help get any more liquid out. Put back on the stove and bring to a boil then simmer for 15 minutes. Add corn starch, water and bring back to a boil, then turn off the heat. Adjust salt and pepper. Plate your shanks with mashed potatoes and gravy, and you’ll be in for a treat.
Alternatively, you can remove the meat from the shanks and put in the gravy while it’s simmering. Then, spoon helpings over mashed potatoes. This method is good if you have some lighter appetites, as 4 pork shanks will easily feed 6 people.
As always, I hope you enjoy!
- 4 pork shanks
- 4 TBS Bold BBQ Rub, or your favorite BBQ Seasoning
- 4 TBS Italian Seasoning
- 1 yellow onion chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 1/2 cup shredded or chopped carrots
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 1 TBS minced garlic
- 3 TBS tomato paste
- 1 TBS worcestershire sauce
- 3-4 bay leaves
- 1/2 bottle full-bodied red wine
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 tsp kosher salt plus to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper plus to taste
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 TBS corn starch
- 2 TBS water
- Prepare smoker to run at 275 degrees.
- Season shanks thoroughly with Bold rub, the Italian seasoning. Place on smoker and cook for 1.5 hours
- While shanks are smoking, add olive oil to a thick-bottomed pot on medium-high heat, then add carrots, onions, celery and bell pepper. Cook 5 minutes or until onions are becoming soft. Add garlic and bay leaves, cook for 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook for 3 more minutes. Deglaze pan with red wine and allow to reduce by 1/3. Add salt and pepper and chicken stock. Stir and turn off heat.
- After shanks have smoked for 1.5 hours, put them into a half-sized aluminum pan. Pour braising liquid in pan, add sprigs of thyme, cover with aluminum foil and return to smoker. Cook for an additional 2 to 2.5 hours, or until meat is very tender.
- Remove shanks from liquid and keep warm. Pour braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into your sauce pan. Bring sauce to a boil, the reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Mix corn starch and water, add to sauce and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Plate shanks and pour gravy over.