Pork Shank Redemption

Let’s get ready to rumble! Pork shanks, when you can procure them, deliver rich and delicious flavours after a bout of slow cooking. I’ve had them only twice before, in restaurants, and was intrigued enough to give them a try at home.

I removed the tough outer skin and left most of the revealed fat intact. Salt and pepper, and a good searing like I would any tough piece of meat is essential before a braise.
For inspiration, I looked to India and the cookbook Vij’s by Vancouver’s Vikram Vij. His recipe for spice-encrusted pork uses pureed onions and tomatoes as the base with garlic, cumin, ginger, turmeric, cayenne and garam masala providing the spice notes.
I tucked the shanks into the sauce, covered and braised in the oven for a few hours, turning the shanks occasionally.
Basmati rice and pappadums were a given accessory for the meal, but for greens I decided to give radish tops a whirl.
Having been wintered over, they’ve been staring at me from the kitchen window, lush and healthy. And yes, they are edible.
Washed and trimmed, and pretty good raw, I thought they would be best quickly sauteed and finished with a bit of fragrant olive oil and a hit with salt. Its flavour profile is slightly peppery and bitter, and I’m thinking next time, I’ll sub the greens for spinach with paneer cheese.
The two shanks fed three people easily.
I sliced the meat from the bone, served with some of the sauce, the greens, rice and pappadums.
Pork shanks redeemed.

4 Responses to “Pork Shank Redemption”

  1. pants says:


    Spring is a great time to use those bits of green coming back to life in your garden. Things are starting to flower and bolt, so head them off at the pass! Brassica shoots are really nice this time of year, kale in particular is nice and sweet. Arugula tops are great, too. Turnip greens are a little spicy, but great lightly cooked and finished with a little rice wine vinegar over rice!


  2. Thanks Matt for the lovely comment. I’m amazed at the amount of arugula this year, it’s seemingly never ending. The radish leaves were a nice surprise, I’m going to be planting another crop in the fall to see if I can revisit the experience. And I’m going try planting brassica this year.

  3. Matt R. says:

    All those brassicas do really well in partial sun in the winter – they don’t seem to care much! Wet, dry, sun, snow, cold, mild. They just keep trucking all year, just keep changing gears.. I’m planning on leaving my kale in the ground this summer because it’s turning out really nicely and my daughter loves it. Great on the grill in the summer, too.

    Arugula is nice to have around right now – older leaves are good for soup, pesto, a quick saute, whatever. The young leaves are good on their own with some hazelnuts or brown butter vinaigrette (omg so good) and the flowers are tender and so sweet.

    I am happy to see lots of local producers making some money off of this ‘by-product’ of their operations. Kale tops, broccoli and cauliflower shoots, even cabbage tops are easy to use. Every year I wonder why we don’t see a tonne of garlic scapes in the grocery stores. Imagine all those garlic fields in California – what do they do with the scapes?? Compost? They sell for $10/lb to local restaurants here!

  4. Gotta love greens that don’t care much! I’m sure garlic scapes are a trendy ingredient in California restaurants, but would like to see them available here, maybe the Root Cellar?

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