Italian Farm Country Braised Pork Shanks

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Italian style is a natural attitude. It is about a life of good taste. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Simple but with good taste. Luxury is possible to buy. Good taste is not.
Diego Della Valle

While I ponder that quote for a minute what comes to mind is how expensive the “cheaper”cuts of meat now…

An easy one pot dinner to put together and then braised at 325º for at least 2 1/2-3 hours.  The incredible aromas of the bubbly braise of pork shanks almost too much to resist on a dreary chilly day, that was more than a week ago we are now into the 90’s here at the coast so I guess that we can say that summer is here at last.  Still a braised pork dish would be welcome on any night and with the availability of prepped ingredients, even easier to prepare.  Might be a good dish to add to one-handed dinner list after carpal tunnel surgery.  

Fresh herbs of thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and sage are available in packets all year-long and now I even see labeled pot roasting selection, etc.  A classic additional flavor for this particular braise are mushrooms enhanced by dried mushrooms also available in 2.5 ounce packages.  I used the wild mushroom blend, rough chopped, and a package of porcini along with a few baby bella ‘shrooms.  All of the dried  mushrooms are soaked in boiled water and allowed to stand for as long as I want them to, in this case a few hours.

6 slices chopped prosciutto
8 brown baby bella mushrooms quartered
1 halved and sliced leek, white and light green part only
4 cloves chopped garlic

Prepared chopped onions, carrots, celery are available in clear plastic tubs…
2 cups chopped onions and 1 cup each of the other vegetables.

Place 1 package of dried wild mushrooms and 1 packet of porcini mushrooms
1 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup beef or pork stock
at least 1 1/2 cups mushroom liquid
1 small sprigs of fresh rosemary
3 small fresh bay leaves
2 small sprigs of fresh thyme
grated zest of 1/2 lemon (the rest of the zest added before serving each dish)

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Time saver:  Prepared chopped onions, carrots, celery are available in clear plastic tubs…

2 cups chopped onions and 1 cup each of the other vegetables.
Place 1 package of dried wild mushrooms and 1 packet of porcini mushrooms in a large measuring cup and pour about 2 cups boiling water over, stir and let rest for at least one hour.  Strain the soaked rehydrated mushrooms and rough chop.  Strain the mushroom liquid through a fine strainer and set aside for the pork braise.

Season 2 whole pork shanks all over, heat a large Dutch oven and add about 2 tablespoons EVOO.When the oil has heated up enough sear the shanks on every side until golden brown, remove from to a plate.

Sauté all of the vegetables and prosciutto (stir) 4 minutes, add quartered  fresh mushrooms sauté briefly and deglaze 2 minutes with white wine, toss in all of the herbs and stocks,  Season with salt and pepper, bring to a low boil on the stove top, cover and place into a 325º oven and braise for 2 1/2 – 3 hours.  Check liquid level from time to time and add more if necessary (I didn’t need anymore liquid).  The meat should just fall off the bone serve with pan gravy, polenta, garlic mashed potatoes or roasted baby potatoes.   

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