Pork is the meat of choice here in Umbria, and one item that is often on casual restaurant menus in our area is stinco di maiale. This is simply a pork shank that has been slowly roasted until the meat becomes so tender it falls off the bone. Stinco is a very inexpensive cut of meat here, so when I see it I often pick it up. There are many ways to prepare this cut of meat, but I prefer slowly braising it with vegetables and some type of liquid as I do in this recipe. The day I decided to prepare stinco for dinner was the day before we headed up to the mountains in northern Italy. This is a very typical type of dish served there as the area’s cuisine is highly influenced by its proximity to Germany and Switzerland. In honor of our upcoming trip I decided to use beer as my braising liquid.
The sauce used to dress the finished meat is a simple one as I simply used my hand blender to blend together the vegetables and cooking liquids. After that, you just need to taste it and adjust the seasonings and you have a tasty sauce. I prefer to serve the stinco by pulling the meat off the bone. In this version I made a pillow of pureed cauliflower for underneath, but mashed potatoes or polenta work well also. I simply placed some of the meat on the cauliflower, then drizzled some of the sauce on top. I served my stinco with a side of sautéed greens, but you can choose any vegetable side you prefer. To comlete my dish, I topped the meat with a fresh tasting apple gremolata- apples, parsley, and lemon zest chopped together. I use my Le Creuset cast iron roaster for this dish which works perfectly for dishes that go from stove top to oven.
Deborah Mele 2014
Pork Shank Braised In Beer (Stinco di Maiale alla Birra)
- 2 Medium Sized Pork Shanks
- 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Carrots, Peeled & Cut Into 2-inch Pieces
- 1 Medium Onion Cut Into Wedges
- 2 Celery Stalks, Cut Into 2-inch Pieces
- 3 Garlic Cloves
- 1 Sprig Fresh Rosemary
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1/2 Liter Beer
- 1/2 Cup Diced Peeled Apples
- 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley Leaves
- Zest From 1 Lemon
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- In a heavy ovenproof casserole dish or pot, heat the oil over medium heat until lightly smoking.
- Season the shanks with salt and pepper, then brown both the pork shanks well on all sides, about 12 minutes.
- Place the vegetables and garlic around the shanks, then add the rosemary, oregano, salt, pepper, and beer.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and place the pot into the oven.
- Cook for 3 hours, turning the meat twice during the cooking time.
- Just before the meat has finished cooking, chop the ingredients for the gremolata together.
- Carefully remove the shanks and rosemary sprig from the pot.
- Use a hand wand to puree the vegetables and liquids until smooth.
- Taste, and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
- Remove the meat from the bones and place on a platter.
- Spoon the sauce over the meat, spoon the gremolata, and serve as suggested. (See Notes Above)