Pork shank is the lower portion of the leg, which contains part of the femur. While there are a number of ways to prepare pork shank, including broiling and roasting, these methods can lead to overcooking and a dry, tasteless dish. Instead, consider braising -- a process that relies on moist heat and extended cooking times to break down connective tissue. Braising a pork shank not only keeps the pork tender and succulent, but also ensures a healthier final product as you can strain the pork fat from the cooking liquid.
Coat the bottom of your Dutch oven with a small amount of canola oil. Warm it on the stovetop over medium heat.
Place the pork shank in the Dutch oven. Allow it to brown on all sides. Use a pair of cooking tongs to rotate the meat from one side to another. It will take between one and two minutes to brown each side of the pork shank.
Use the tongs to remove the pork shank from the Dutch oven. Carefully drain off the excess fat from the oven. Return the pork to the Dutch oven, increasing the cooking temperature to medium-high.
Add water to the Dutch oven -- as much as is needed to cover the pork shank. Add your seasonings, such as salt, pepper and bay leaf, to the oven. Allow the water to come to a full boil, and then decrease the cooking temperature to low.
Allow the pork shank to cook for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender. Use a fork to test the texture of the meat as it is cooking.
Add the desired vegetables, such as onions, celery and carrots, to the Dutch oven. Use 1/2 cup of vegetables for every pound of pork shank. Allow the shank and vegetables to cook for another 25 minutes, or until the meat is very tender and the vegetables are fork-tender.
Use a spoon to remove any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid.
- North Carolina State University: Pork Ham
- The Fannie Farmer Cookbook; Marion Cunningham