Braised Pork Shank with Campanelle and Asparagus

Over the weekend, on a whim, I purchased some pork shanks from Olsen Farms at a farmers market.  I had no plans for them, but after a little discussion, it was decided to go with a standard braising, much like that which I've done with veal shanks.  I initially wanted to do a red braise, or soy braise on them a la Chinese braised spare ribs.  But, Chris persuaded me otherwise.   Oddly, I don't remember having ever made pork shanks.  Can that be?  My mom would make red braised pork hocks, but those always had the rind on.  These shanks have the rind removed and look a lot like veal shanks.  Can't wait for my braised meat dinner.

3 to 3 1/2 pounds pork shanks
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small carrots, chopped
4-5 small celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, choped
several sprigs fresh thyme
several fresh sage leaves
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup beef broth
1 cup apple cider
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper the pork.
Heat the olive in over medium high in a medium sized heavy pot.
Brown the pork on all sides.  Remove and set aside.
Add the vegetables and sauté until lightly browned, about 5-7 minutes.
Deglaze the pot with the red wine. Let boil for a few minutes.
Add the broths and apple cider.  Bring to a boil.
Add the thyme, sage and rosemary.
Return the pork shanks to the pot.
Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until pork is fall off the bone tender.  You should flip the shanks a few times during the period of time.
When the pork is tender, carefully remove them and put into a pan. The pieces may fall away from the bone, but that's okay as you'll be splitting them up to serve anyway.  Cover with tin foil while you prepare the sauce.
Strain all of the solids from the cooking sauce using a fine sieve.  Press on the solids to extract all of their flavor.  Degrease the sauce using either a fat separator or by carefully spooning it off the surface of the sauce.
Return the sauce to the pot.  Bring to a rolling boil for 5-10 minutes, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to about 2 cups.
Add the balsamic vinegar, add salt and pepper to taste.
Add the pork shanks back to the pot.  Simmer to heat through.

For the campanelle, I drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil and finished with freshly grated parmigiano reggiano.  The asparagus was roasted under the broiler with olive oil and salt and pepper.  Pork goodness.


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