Braised Pork Shanks
Since I've been home, I started doing something I never did before - watching a cooking show called The Chew. Anyone who knows my knows that my husband of 23 years has done most of the cooking. In fact, he wooed me with food. They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but I'm here to tell you that it works for women, too. When we were dating, he peeled crabs for me to eat. When I told me brother, he asked incredulously, "Deb, he peeled crabs for you? You should marry that guy!" That's not the only reason I married him, but I will say he is the best husband.
Anyway, now that I'm retired, I am exploring the domestic goddess part of myself. Cooking is never something that I did much of, especially since Wayne has been such a good cook. I remember when my mom came to live with us, and she raved about Wayne's cooking. She told him, "You should open a restaurant!" I asked her, "What about me?" She said, " Oh, no, you should just keep working!" Oh well.... she would be so surprised to see me cooking now.
One of the chefs on the show, The Chew, made braised pork shanks. Not everything they cook on that show appeals to me, but for some reason this recipe did, which is weird, because I was macrobiotic for a long time (that's a very strict vegetarian), but here I am now as a meat-eater. As an aside, when I first met Wayne, I was macrobiotic at the time, and everything I cooked, he wanted to add animal protein to. I fixed him millet, and he complained to his friends, "She made me birdseed!" You know those bell-shaped bird foods you see in the store? They're made of millet, so that's what he thought I was cooking for him - birdseed. Yes, we've come a long way in our culinary exploits.
Getting back to the braised pork shanks, I don't even know what a shank is, but it looked good on TV, so I asked Wayne to go to the grocery for me and get pork shanks. He didn't know what they were either, so he looked it up in Julia Child's book, The Joy of Cooking. He discovered that it's part of the leg of the pig. Off he went to the store (I would have gone myself, but I just had knee surgery, and I'm not walking that easily). When he returned home, he said the butcher at the store didn't have pork shanks, but he produced a $13.00 piece of meat, that he said was a picnic ham. The label said it was a fresh pork shoulder. I know nothing about meat. In fact, I have never even cooked a roast in my life. There are so many things I have never cooked, which isn't that hard to imagine, since I am just exploring cooking at this point of my life. Well, I wasn't sure what to do with the "picnic ham," but in the inimitable words of Scarlett O'Hara, I thought to myself, "I'll worry about that tomorrow." I put the meat in the refrigerator to deal with the next day.
OK. The next day arrived, and I got out the recipe. I read it through several times. Don't you just love it when the recipe says, "easy" and time required for preparation, "two hours?" I am here to tell you that it took me three days of cooking to prepare braised pork shanks. First, I had to brine the picnic ham and leave it overnight. Then I had to cut off the thick skin - you should have seen me trying to saw away at it. You really do know that this came from a pig when you're struggling to get the skin off the meat. Then I prepared the seasoning broth. Next, I cut up the meat in small pieces to dip in flour and brown in oil in the cast iron frying pan. I put the meat in the dutch oven to cook at 300 degrees for several hours. After the meat was cooked, I put the meat in the broth to marinate it overnight. Today we will actually sit down to eat the braised pork shanks. Hallelujah! I will say, that while I was browning the meat, I sampled it, and boy, did it taste good! Who knew? Well, I didn't because I am a beginner at this cooking gig. I'm hoping that it's good after soaking all night in the broth. But two hours is not true. I'm telling you - three days to cook this recipe!!!!