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Moroccan Inspired Pork Shanks

Just a few announcements here, as I share the recipe for the pork shanks we served at Jack last weekend.

If you’re a blogger of any sort living in NYC, you should come join us at the Brooklyn Blogfest tonight. It will be held at (hold you breath, wait for it, wait for it…) the Brooklyn Lyceum in Park Slope – yes, the very same fabulous location where Dave and I hold our restaurant nights twice a month.

I’ll be there to help set up and participate. I was interviewed for a video of Brooklyn Bloggers that will be played at the event. And, most importantly from your perspective, I’m sure, we’ll be giving away samples of Dave’s brilliantly fantastic homemade marshmallows in a selection of flavors – kahlua, lemon/rose/almond, and Aztec 3.0. I think our plan is to have about 200 bags of marshmallows to give away, so with an expected turnout of closer to 300 people, you better get there early if you want marshmallows tonight!

And speaking of the our restaurant, the May 24, 2008 menu is finally up.

Okay, back to the recipe. These pork shanks were loosely based on some of the fruity tagines we’ve eaten. Since Morocco is an Islamic country, making what basically amounts to a pork shank tagine is probably unheard of in traditional Moroccan cuisine. Sure is tasty, though!

2007: Amaretto Brownies with Saffron Creme Anglaise and Bee Pollen Spice Mix
2006: Paprika Sticky Rolls

Moroccan Inspired Pork Shanks
2 pork shanks (about 2.5-3 lbs)
A bit of oil for browning
for the braise
1/2 tsp saffron threads (1 big pinch)
1 C hot water
1 tsp ground ginger
2 2-inch-long cinnamon sticks
1 tsp csipos (spicy) paprika
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1/2 preserved lemon
1/8 C tomato paste
to finish the sauce
1 onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 C coarsely chopped dried apricots

Set aside the saffron threads to steep in the hot water.

Brown the shanks by searing them in a little oil in a hot pan on all sides.

Pull the pith and flesh from the preserved lemon and discard. Rinse the peel well. Stir it and the rest of the braising ingredients into the saffron water.

Braise the shanks in the saffron water mix over low heat until meltingly tender, or just pressure cook for 25 minutes on high and then release the pressure by natural release. (Can you tell how much we love the pressure cooker we got this year? We can braise things the slow way, but we both have day jobs, after all.)

Once the pork is ready, remove the meat from the cooking liquid and set it aside to cool a bit. Strain and defat the liquid.

Start to build the rest of the sauce by sauteing the onion in a bit of oil until brown. Stir in the garlic, apricots, and degreased pork cooking liquid.

Cook the sauce for 20 minutes or so. In the meantime, to make service easier you may want to pull on a pair of gloves and pull the meat from the bone, since each shank is big enough to feed several people. This is optional, though.

When the sauce is ready, pour it back over the pork.

I like to serve this with couscous and cucumber salad.

2 C couscous
Olive oil
Cold water

Rinse the couscous in about 6 C cold water. Drain the water, and leave the damp couscous spread out in a roasting pan to absorb what remains for about ten minutes. Rake through the couscous once it dries, breaking up any lumps with your fingers.

Steam the couscous over broth or water for twenty minutes. I use a bamboo steamer set over a water-filled wok and lined with a paper towel before pouring the couscous into it. Leave the couscous uncovered as it steams.

Pour the couscous out back into the roasting pan. I like to wear nitrile or latex gloves for this step to protect my hands from the heat. Cover your hands in olive oil and add cold water slowly, raking the couscous and breaking up any lumps with your fingers as you do so. The couscous expands more from the cold water it absorbs during the raking than it does from the steaming. The oil you are rubbing into the couscous helps keep the grains separated. Add enough cold water for the couscous to stay damp and absorb, but not so much that you soak it. For 2 C couscous, I tend to add about 1 – 1 1/2 C cold water.

At this point, you can set the couscous aside covered with a damp towel for at hours before finishing it with a second steaming. If you do so, just pick up at the next step whenever you like. Otherwise, just set it aside for 10 minutes, uncovered.

Rake the couscous again to remove any lumps and return it to the steamer. (Make sure you still have enough water in the wok below.) Steam twenty minutes, uncovered. Remove from the steamer, work in a bit more cold water if you like, rake out any lumps with your fingers, and serve.

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3 Responses to “Moroccan Inspired Pork Shanks”

  1. Vicki says:

    The Jack menu sounds divine! One question – what is a garlic seed, and how do you pickle it? Umm…I meant, 2 questions. :-)

  2. Professor K. says:

    The pork shank recipe sounds marvelous! We’ve got to try that! It is not totally accurate to say that all Muslims do not eat pork. I live in Russia part of the time and Russia has a large Muslim population with roots in Azerbaijan, Dagestan, Turkey, Uzbekhistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan. We travel about the country a great deal and frequently dine in Uzbekh, Azerbaijani, and other Muslim restaurants and cafes all across the country and we frequently find they serve a wide variety of different pork dishes, pork shish kebab, rice pilafs made with pork, pelmeni (Siberian steamed dumplings made with a combination of beef and pork), grape leaves stuffed with pork, beef and rice, and many others. Contrary to popular belief, the same Muslim restaurants serve Russian beers and wines, Russian champanskaya (champagne), and vodka — and many of the Muslim customers consume them as well, right along with the pork dishes.

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May 2008
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