Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pork Osso Buco the Roast that dare not speak it's name!

 Osso Buco. It is a dish whose name conjures up the most amazing food visions. Rich meaty bones on a platter laden heavy and smothered in some fabulous sauce. And that meaty goodness sitting on a bed of some starchy, ridiculous, cheesy or buttery laden side dish. It's a winter dish fit for a king, and a very good idea for entertaining. One pot wonder and all.

Osso Buco is an Italian dish generally served one of two ways. It is Veal Shank braised with a brown sauce and served with a gremolata, or in a rich tomato sauce. The first is the older of the two preparations and is traditionally served with saffron risotto. The more modern version is generally served with mashed potato or polenta. Either way it is a 19th century dish which made it's way into the modern Italian kitchen and has stayed there.

I first had Osso Buco when I was in Europe and was treated to a dinner of Osso Bucco by one of the lady's who I was aquainted with through work. She had me and another colleague over for dinner and prepared this as the main course. She was from Tessin in Switzerland, which is the Italian speaking portion of that country. She made this dish in the old style and served it with amazing risotto flavored with mushrooms and herbs. Wow, was that good. Like so many foods I had in Europe for the first time I was amazed that this meat preparation even existed. It was so far from my normal knowledge of the braised meats of my home cookery. Which resided in the camps of the English, German, and Scandinavian camps. But this was awesomely different and special.

Since then I have made traditional and tomato based Osso Buco a few times. But it's an expensive and a time consuming dish. Veal shanks are not the cheapest cut of meat after all and the braising process can take 3 to 4 hours traditionally. So obviously I was wanting to try something a little different. Plus I was cooking for the girls. They were coming over and I had to put a really good feedbag on for them. So I started thinking about lamb. No that too was rather pricey. Then I stumbled on an article while looking around for pork belly recipes that mentioned pork shanks. Cheap and pretty hearty I thought. Oh why not. I am up for a new experience. So lets do them.

So I did a little research and many of the things I read made me recognize that the long braise seemed in my future. I was also unsure of the sauce quality and the flavor profile that the dish might have. I am obsessed with sauce on braised meat. I want it thick and full of flavor. But then I thought. Well, we just did short ribs with an overnight marinade and a 2 hour stove top braise with an amazing sauce. Why not try this with the pork shank. What do you have to lose. I mean if it doesn't cook in the two hours you will just keep cooking it. Not only that but prunes, which are in the marinade go really well with Pork naturally.

So the plan began. I returned to Esposito's Pork Shop home of some of the finest Pork and Pork products in the city and talked to my guy there. I told him I was interested in getting some Fresh Pork shanks and having them cut and tied like Osso Bucco. I got a package of six large beautiful pieces of Pork Shank for under 15 dollars and headed back to the kitchen.

The process was pretty easy just like the Short Ribs had been. Although, I wasn't sure this time if it would work. I made the marinade, prune juice, teriyaki sauce, and water and placed the pork shank pieces into it until they were submerged. Then clipped the lid of the bucket on and placed it in the fridge. That was it.

In the later afternoon about 4 hours before my party ( because I wanted time to make sure things had cooked correctly) I took the container out of the fridge, poured the liquid into a braising pot threw in 2 star anise pods, brought it to a boil, and then turned down the heat to a simmer bubble thing and returned the meat to the pot and put on the lid. 2 hours later I took off the lid and tested the meat. Fork tender! Unbelievable! I carefully took the meat out of the liquid and removed the star anise I had added as flavor enhancer.  I added 1/2 cup Carolina Gold Mustard based BBQ sauce ( I make and keep this or you can buy it, if I buy it I like Cattleman's BBQ sauce it's my favorite go to red or yellow sauce in a bottle) This was for smoke and edge and 1/4 apple cider vinegar and 1/4  pancake syrup to balance it out. I brought the liquid to a boil and boiled it down, down, down till it was so thick it would have coated and hung onto a spoon like a gravy. It took awhile but when it hits that soiling point it looks like dark caramel in a pot. YUM! I then returned the Pork to the pot and ladled the thick sauce over the meat till it was glistening. I held it until I was ready to serve over very very low heat, then brought it up a little right before serving. I served it over a winter veggie hash that had a vinegar edge and went very well with the sweet smoky sauce, but it could have gone over mashed white or sweet potatoes with lots of butter and garlic or even horseradish. Or a polenta, grits or risotto would have been nice.

It was incredible. Really good. So next time you want to impress your family or your guests try this. Your butcher should be able to help you. You just have to have him cut the shank into 2 pieces and cut the ends off. beforehand. This will give you an ample piece of meat. Enjoy!!

Forrest's Pork Osso Buco with Smoky Sweet Blackened Vinegar Sauce
serves 6


3 pieces of pork shank cut like osso buco and tied up ( get your butcher to do this)
This will give you 6 portions
2 cups prune juice
2 cups low sodium Teriyaki sauce
2 cups water
2 pieces star anise
1/2 cup South Carolina Style Yellow Mustard BBQ sauce
1/4 cup Apple Cider vinegar
1/4 cup Pancake Syrup Maple Flavored


Mix prune juice Teriyaki sauce and water and place in an airtight container
Submerge Pork in the liquid and let sit in the fridge over night at least 10 hours
Next day take from fridge and pour liquid out and bring to boil in a braising pot on stove.
When boiling reduce heat, return meat to the liquid and simmer on low bubble for 2 hours
Then remove cooked meat carefully and hold.
Remove the Star anise and add the other liquids. Bring to a boil and reduce till very thick and bubbling almost like sugar when it's boiling and it coats a spoon thickly like a gravy. ( if sauce ever gets too thick thin with a little water)
Turn down the heat and return the meat to the sauce. Coat liberally with the sauce and serve warm over your choice of side dish.
Enjoy Ya'll!

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