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Pork neck bones

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7 replies to this topic

#1 Shalmanese

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Posted 16 March 2009 - 08:43 PM

Pork neck bones are one of the staples of Chinese cooking which is practically unknown in the west. To me, pork neck bones combine a dazzling variety of textures, flavors and marbling and is quite possibly the most perfect single cut on any animal that I've experienced. They're definitely not for the timid though, you have to enjoy gnawing and sucking on bone.

Like chicken wings, flank steak & short ribs before it, neck bones strike me as the type of "garbage cut" which is soon to be discovered. But before it has, it's currently as cheap as chips and an absolute bargain for foodies in the know.

To cook them, you can either braise them, make soup out of them or slow roast them. I've had them every which way and they're delicious. The other decision you need to make is how far you want to cook them. Left on the stove for 3 hours or more and they become falling apart tender and the meat strips away clean. Shorten it to 2 hours or so and, IMHO, there's still a bit of fight left in the meat which makes it more interesting to eat.

So far, I've only really used them in asian preparations, either braising in soy or as part of an asian soup. But I'm interested in seeing how it can adapt to more traditional western recipes as well.

So for anyone who's never tried pork neck bones before, I'd urge you to go to your nearest asian butcher where $5 should buy you enough to feed a family of 6 with change leftover. For those who cook with them regularly, I'd be interested to hear what you do with them.

hzrt8w has a pictorial in the Chinese food section for Pork Neck Bone Soup with Lotus Root (蓮藕豬骨湯) for reference.
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#2 divalasvegas

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 02:39 AM

It's so funny/interesting Shalmanese that you refer to pork neck bones as being virtually unknown in the West since eating them is a very tasty memory for me growing up. I had no idea that they were a staple of Chinese cuisine.

Only recently I was telling someone about my mom's very simple, very cheap rendition of pinto beans using fresh pork neck bones. As you probably know, they are also sold cured/smoked. However, she only used the fresh ones which we purchased at our local supermarket. She was a fabulous Southern-style cook and these were added to a pot of dried pinto beans along with onions, seasoning salt, and black pepper, water to cover and simmered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The resultant dish was delicious and soothing served over rice with greens (like collard, turnip, or mustard greens) on the side and hot buttered cornbread. That--and one's favorite hot sauce to taste--was it. It was so good and, as you've indicated, the meat is tender, gelatinous, porky goodness meant to be eaten using your fingers to get every last yummy morsel.

Thanks for the tip to shop for them at an Asian grocery store/market for reasonably priced neck bones since like so many "garbage cuts" it's often hit or miss finding them nowadays in supermarkets on a regular basis and even then they're often overpriced in my opinion.
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#3 heidih

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Posted 17 March 2009 - 05:58 PM

Timely topic for me Shalmanese.

Meaty looking pork neck bones were on sale for 99 cent/pound at my local big Chinese market last week. I picked up a pound and a half and had the butcher saw them into smaller chunks. I threw them in the freezer with no plan.

I am thinking of putting them on a bed of green garlic tops & fennel tops (from the freezer) and ginger, after rubbing with fish sauce and pepper, covering and cooking in oven at 300 until the meat is easily off the bone. My thought is to remove them to another vessel leaving the fat behind, cover with a pre-made green curry/coconut sauce, and set in the fridge over night to let the flavors mingle. The next day I would heat and serve with rice or noodles. Messy to eat, but that is part of the fun of bony meats.

Any thoughts? I will report back.

#4 heidih

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 01:41 PM

Reporting back that the pork neck bones were a winner. I slow roasted them on the bed of aromatics per my post above. I pulled them out when I could pull most of the meat off the bone easily but there was still some clinging in the crevices. I did open the lid (actually pulled the corner up on the foil) when they were about half done because I was concerned about getting too much of a steaming versus roasting effect. I was happy with the meat right then but continued with the plan to sauce with green curry. That was tasty but I think I like the meat best just out of the oven as I made it.

This would be great in a multi-course family style meal. My family has a lot of bone pickers and suckers. If they were going to be in town for Easter I would definitely have it on the menu along with roasted crispy duck wings.

#5 Shalmanese

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 08:03 PM

Sounds like a treat. Last time I did them, I did something similar except with miso paste.
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#6 Ben Hong

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Posted 23 March 2009 - 01:04 PM

I can't make a decent (Chinese) soup stock without pork neck bones. Depending on your meat seller, you can pick up neck bones with lots of lean meat on them. That's when you cook them up as a main dish.

#7 franktex

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 12:56 PM

I have to praise lamb necks also-they braise real good. They're cheap too!~
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#8 judiu

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Posted 24 March 2009 - 12:57 PM

Many years ago, my first taste of 'soul food' was rice cooked with fresh and smoked neckbones and cabbage. I thought I'd gone to heaven! :wub:
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