And Then Sometimes, You Need to Eat Like a Caveman
I feel like every year someone tells me that the Farmer's Almanac says this will be the coldest winter on record in one hundred years. Every. Year. This year, the temperature (fingers crossed) has not been too offensive here in NYC. But - I have to inquire - is anyone else afraid that we're on the precipice of the next ice age? I mean, THE SNOW. Georgia, can you hear me?
To be quite simple about it, this kind of snow gives me the occasional panic that the grid will go down. Phones, ATMs, the Interwebs, VENDING MACHINES. The whole effing thing. And, if and when that time comes, I will want to brush up on my caveman skills. By this logic, I need to be well-versed in eating large chunks of meat, roughly the size of my head, straight off the bone, in a ravenous blur. I, however, don't see that as any reason to not eat creamy leeks, shallots and beet greens alongside.
I have to warn you: this recipe is not for the faint of heart. It is slow, involved, has a ridiculous amount of ingredients and, if your apartment is anything like the size mine is, will bring the temperature of your entire living space up ten to fifteen degrees. It's definitely for the winter months, both because of oven time and because it rests in the bottom of your gut like a lovely brick. My desperate tendency to include vegetables in everything not withstanding.
Please to enjoy, my particular vision of the post-apocalyptic wasteland before us. I hope it fortifies you with warmth and - most importantly - sharpens your incisors.
Braised and Roasted Pork Shanks with Beets, Mushrooms and Creamed Greens (adapted sort of liberally from Bon Appetit)
4 whole fresh pork shanks with rind (each 1 pound or bigger - I ended up with only three and it was PLENTY)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 bunch beets w/ greens attached (separate the greens, chop and reserve - peel the beets and chop them too)
1/2 lb shitake mushrooms, quartered
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped carrots
2 ounces prosciutto, chopped6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
3 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1 cup chopped leek (white and pale green parts only)
3 shallots, chopped
knob of butter
1/2 cup creme fraiche
glug of heavy cream, if you have some on hand
Preheat oven to 325F. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy, large, wide pot over medium-high heat. Add pork, in batches if necessary, and brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer pork to rimmed baking sheet.
Spoon off and discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrots, mushrooms and prosciutto. Cover and cook until vegetables are soft and beginning to color, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Mix in garlic and beets and stir about for a minute or two, until it smells awesome. Add wine and bring to boil, scraping up any browned bits. Add broth, 1 teaspoon sage and 1 teaspoon rosemary. Return pork and any accumulated juices to pot, arranging in single layer (you'll have to nestle it down into the veg).
Bring pork mixture to boil, cover pot, and place in oven. Braise pork until very tender, turning over every 30 minutes, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425F. Transfer pork to rimmed baking sheet. Brush with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons sage, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and black pepper. Roast pork until browned, about 20 minutes. Keep your veg on the stove and boil until the juice thickens a little into sauce.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Once the foam subsides, sweat your shallots and leeks with a little salt until they are soft and translucent. Toss your beet greens in by the handful, letting each handful wilt a little bit before throwing in the next. Stir in your creme fraiche (and cream if using), let it thicken a bit, then remove from the heat and season generously with black pepper.
Spoon veg and greens into shallow bowls. Top with pork and eat like a caveman.