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abadoozy

Braised pork shanks - bland, what did I do wrong?

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I don't braise very often, and I think I figured out why last night.

I had some pork shanks in the freezer that someone had given me a while back, and figured I'd braise them, it being a rainy cold day and all.

I thawed them, browned them, and put 'em in a pan with onions, carrots, celery, a big sprig of rosemary from the garden, garlic, some veal stock, and 3/4 of a bottle of white wine. Let them cook until the meat fell off the bone. Served them with some baby purple and white potatoes cooked in the same broth and yellow chard on the side.

Texture wise, they were great. But tastewise? Meh. Bland. Didn't help that I didn't salt them enough, but it wasn't just that.

The braises I've had before have been lovely flavorful things. Should I have reduced the cooking liquid into more of a gravy/sauce thing? Added something else? I think it would have created more interest to have mashed the potatoes with butter and maybe garlic or other aromatics, but still, I'd like the pork itself to have more of a bang.

Any ideas?

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I don't braise very often, and I think I figured out why last night.

I had some pork shanks in the freezer that someone had given me a while back, and figured I'd braise them, it being a rainy cold day and all.

I thawed them, browned them, and put 'em in a pan with onions, carrots, celery, a big sprig of rosemary from the garden, garlic, some veal stock, and 3/4 of a bottle of white wine. Let them cook until the meat fell off the bone. Served them with some baby purple and white potatoes cooked in the same broth and yellow chard on the side.

Texture wise, they were great. But tastewise? Meh. Bland. Didn't help that I didn't salt them enough, but it wasn't just that.

The braises I've had before have been lovely flavorful things. Should I have reduced the cooking liquid into more of a gravy/sauce thing? Added something else? I think it would have created more interest to have mashed the potatoes with butter and maybe garlic or other aromatics, but still, I'd like the pork itself to have more of a bang.

Any ideas?

How much celery did you use? For some reason, I have found that braised celery seem to take over a dish and "bland it out" for some reason. HTH


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Did you brown the shanks well before-hand and deglaze the pan? Also, I often take a hint from Judy Rogers and salt the meat in advance. And, I'm not a fan of carrots and celery in the braise the whole time. How much liquid did you use? And, yes, reducing the liquid is a good idea after the braise.

Please also visit the Braising with Molly topic -- based on the All About Braising cookbook by Molly Stevens, but many of us have done a lot of braising and the bits of advice are great whether you have the book or not.


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

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I prefer red wine over white when braising pork or beef, or if you want a lighter color, vermouth adds a nice herbiness over normal white wine. However, I'd second snowangel in that my first question would be if the meat was browned enough.

Another fantastically flavorful way to braise pork shank, assuming the skin is still on, is to red-cook it in a chinese style: the braise with soy sauce, star anise, rock sugar, rice wine, and some ginger, at a minimum- though everyone has their own variation.


---

al wang

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A few suggestion that might help:

Serve the shanks the following day. Most braises taste better rewarmed.

Saute the mirepoix.

Pour out the fat and deglaze the pan to get the bits of fond stuck to the pan.

Use the wine to deglaze and reduce it before adding stock.

I find that using too much liquid makes a bland braise. Most recipes say to cover the meat with stock/wine, etc. For slow braising, I just add about an inch of liquid and add a little more when needed. The meat and mirepoix will also give off some liquid. This makes for a rich sauce. By using less liquid, meat doesn't have that bleached out taste...that all the flavor went out to sauce and nothing left in the meat.

Also don't compare braised pork shank to lamb shank. Pork is a blander meat than lamb.

Hope the above shed some light.

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also try salting the legs overnight like confit. then rinse,dry and sear off as usual. works great for shanks as long as there whole.

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