There's a chill in the air, and that means it's time to braise!
This recipe features the amazing flavors of pasture-raised Pork Shanks cooked low and slow for hours, but is surprisingly easy to make. It's an ideal dish for cool nights when you want to open a bottle of wine and fill the house with the warmth and smells of a delicious home-cooked meal.
Braised Pork Shank Ragu
1 1/2 lb Flat Ribbon Pasta (Pappardelle, or similar)
2 Tbsp Grape Seed Oil
1 Large White Onion, Diced
2 Cloves Garlic, Minced
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 1/2 tsp Fennel Seed
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
2 Tbsp All Purpose Flour
2 Cups Dry White Wine
3 Cups Stock or Water
2 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary, Whole
1 Small Handful Parsley, Chopped
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Heat grape seed oil in a 6 quart or similar sized dutch oven on the stove over medium-high heat. Salt your Pork Shanks liberally, sear on all sides until golden brown. This is the most time-consuming part of the process and may take up to 20 minutes (but it's worth it).
Remove the shanks from the pot and cook the onions until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, fennel seeds, and garlic, and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
Pro-tip: Don't want to throw away your extra tomato paste? Measure out 1 Tbsp dollops on wax paper, freeze for an hour, then bag them up to save for your next recipe(s).
Add the flour and stir vigorously to incorporate. Once all of the flour has disappeared from sight, add the your shanks back to the pot along with the white wine, stock, and rosemary sprigs.
Cover with a lid, and put it in the oven. Now comes the waiting. Cook for 2.5-3 hours. You can peek occasionally, but there's no need to stir or turn the shanks. Throughout the cooking process, you want the braising liquid to come halfway up the shanks and can add more water or stock as needed. In the final 30 minutes stop adding additional liquid and allow some of the braising liquid to naturally dissipate, leaving you with a nice thick sauce at the end.
After 3.5-4 hours, the shanks should be soft and easy to flake from the bone. Remove from the oven and uncover. It's time to get your salted pasta water boiling!
Remove the bones and use tongs, forks, or hands (if it's cool enough) to shred your meat, then mix it into that thick, rich braising liquid. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
Spoon your sauce over cooked pasta, or mix it in. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley.