Risotto with Pork Shanks

41 Comments

On the last season of Masterchef US, season 10, the 4th runner up went home. His name is Noah Sims and he was a favorite. What sent him home was a risotto topped with venison loin. The venison was overcooked, unfortunately for him, but what sent him home was a profound learning experience to me.

Risotto is a dish. It is a meal. It can be enhanced with an endless number of ingredients, from mushrooms to tomatoes and squash, and seasoned accordingly. It also can be served with protein of just about any kind, for a more involved meal. However, the protein is a separate dish from the risotto.

So, you have risotto, and the added protein, and according to Joe Bastianich, the son of Italian cuisine expert Lidia Bastianich, something has to tie them together. Otherwise it’s like serving a chili dog on a plate of cacio de pepe. (not his quote.) Two completely different dishes.

What Mr. Bastianich suggested was that if Noah had been able to prepare a venison stock to use in the risotto, the overall meal would have worked.

I found this to be quite revelatory. Because although my husband doesn’t mind, I’ve put just about any kind of meat or seafood over his risotto. Now, they have to “go” together. Now I know.

So I created this risotto dish topped with braised pork chops in order to use pork broth in the risotto. Start in the morning, and don’t plan on serving the dish until the next day.

Braised Pork Shanks
4 servings

4 – 1 1/2 pound Berkshire pork shanks
Salt
Pepper
Grapeseed oil, about 1/4 cup total
Olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed
3 cups white wine
3 cups chicken broth
Parsley
Bay leaves
Rosemary branch
Thyme branch
Sprig of sage

Begin by coating the pork with a generous amount of salt and pepper.


Heat the grapeseed oil in a heavy cast-iron pot over high heat. Brown the tops and bottoms of all four shanks, one at a time.

After browning, place the shanks in a large, deep and heavy pot, like a Le Creuset; set aside.

Turn down the heat under the pot to medium. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté the onion, celery, and carrots for about 5 minutes, stirring up all of that meaty goodness.

Stir in the garlic for a minute, then add the wine and broth.

Add all of the herbs to the pot with the broth. Heat up the liquid in the pot, uncovered, and cook for 30 minutes. Then cover the pot well and cook for 30 more minutes.

Let the liquid cool enough to handle the pot, then strain the liquid through a fine colander into the pot with the shanks. Add more wine or broth if necessary. The meat should just be covered.

At this point you can check the seasoning. The broth should be rich with flavor.

Place the pot over a medium-high heat and simmer the shanks for 2 1/2 hours. Turn the shanks over halfway through cooking.

When you’re ready to collect the pork broth and proceed with the risotto, remove the shanks and place in a baking dish. Cover with foil to keep warm.

Taste the broth. If it’s watery, spend at least 30-45 minutes reducing it. Store it in a pourable pot, then make the risotto (recipe below).

Risotto served with Braised Pork Shanks
4 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
12 ounces arborio rice, about 2 cups
Pork broth, about 4-5 cups
Salt, to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, and saute the shallots for a few minutes. Add the rice and stir until all of the grains are lightly coated with the oil.

Gradually begin adding the pork broth to the risotto. This whole process should take about 45 minutes; stir constantly.

Season to your taste. At the end of cooking, I added just a little bit of cream, but this is optional.

For seasoning the risotto, if you want it more “fun,” think about adding some dried thyme, or mushroom powder, or even tomato powder or tomato paste.

The risotto already pairs with the pork shanks because of the lovely rich broth used in it, but you can be a little more creative with the risotto.

To prepare the risotto and pork shank dish, place half of the risotto on a pasta bowl, and top with a warm pork shank. I brushed a little of the broth over the pork so it was nice and moist.

I added some chopped parsley for a little color, and served the meal with a simple green salad.

The pork is so moist, and tender like pulled pork. And flavorful.

And the risotto? Superb. Even with very little fat, the pork broth really created a rich-tasting risotto.

And if you don’t want to deal with the whole shank on your risotto, you can cut it up first, and serve warm over the risotto, like you would short ribs.

But the whole pork shank does make a pretty presentation!

41 thoughts on “Risotto with Pork Shanks

  1. I’ve never had such a heavy Risotto before! It’s usually mushrooms, or seafood, but pork shank!!!? Why didn’t I think of that! I love shank!! Especially when it sounds juicy tender like this one! And I love a creamy Risotto! What a match!

    • Hahahaha! Well, it does look like a GIANT chunk of meat over the risotto, but cut up, it didn’t look as crazy. Great tenderness and flavors. The pork broth was fabulous!

  2. My husband loves risotto, I am not a big fan but I love pork shanks . The perfect meal for my marriage. This meal looks wonderful.

  3. In Italy the pork shank is more often served after the risotto as a course on its own, not on top of the risotto. But if you do, I definitely agree with this approach to make a link between the two. The risotto will certainly be great with the pork stock. The pork shanks can also be cooked sous vide: 48 hours at 135 (scald in hot water after vacuum sealing to prevent a bad smell) for pink, tender and juicy, or 24 hours at 165 for pullable. Instead of using chicken stock you could make it more porky by making a stock with pork trotters.

    • I completely understand, however I wanted to create a dish, not a whole meal. I really liked Joe Bastianich’s concept, and not thought about it before. The pork stock was so good. Pork trotters would be an excellent addition!

  4. As if risotto weren’t enough. :) Loving that “link” between the two — makes sense — I save every flavor of stock in my freezer and use it to enhance whatever I’m cooking for an extra flavor boost. This is over the top! Thank you, Mimi, xo.

    • And what a giant meal! But it was fun learning about the link, about this dish being more than two unrelated parts. Those Italians!

    • Thanks. I really liked learning about this, although I usually don’t serve a giant shank as I photographed it! A good culinary learning experience.

    • Well, it was definitely tasty, and the dish looked a little less “prehistoric” after I cut the meat off of the bones! But making the pork broth was really good, and it definitely worked to tie the meat and risotto together beautifully.

    • I did it the same way I’d make short ribs. Braise them, refrigerate overnight, get them out of the broth, reduce the broth, make the risotto. Honestly, I don’t remember if I dipped the shanks into the broth again, or what I did. The big old shank was mostly for the photos. I did cut up the meat, and must have warmed it in the broth. Gah, I can’t remember!

    • Goodness no, risotto is a primi or I forget what part of a traditional meal, but my purpose was different for this meal. I thought the concept about combining protein and risotto was really brilliant, and oh so Italian!

    • Thank you! It was very interesting to think about the connection between the two different dishes, that became one.

  5. Neat dish — great way to use pork shanks. And Bastianich’s idea of needing to tie elements of a dish together is really interesting. Anyway, good recipe — thanks.

    • That’s exactly what intrigued me. Not that I won’t throw some grilled shrimp on my husband’s risotto in the future without have used some shrimpy stock, but I loved learning this.

  6. I have been so excited for this recipe! Ever since I sought on your Facebook page, I had wanted to make it. Sourcing the Burkeshire pork may be a little difficult, and I might have to resort to mail order. Also, I like the advice that you use broth from the same animal to make the risotto. I never thought of that, but it makes perfect sense. It’s actually something I sort of do anyway, but I would never have thought to have pork broth around. This is a beautiful dish, Mimi!

    • It is an interesting approach, indeed, and one that I respect. However, me personally, I certainly don’t use a seafood broth in a risotto I’m going to serve topped with shrimp. I might add a little tomato paste, and some cayenne. Or, if I’m adding some grilled chicken, I would use some of my fabulous mushroom powder I’m so addicted now. But I still love learning, and Joe Bastianich is a hoot!

  7. I do love the versatility of risotto with virtually anything. What a marvelous idea for this recipe in creating the broth from the sauteed vegetables and simmered pork shanks and then making the risotto. I can almost taste it now. I love your recipes. Thanks for sharing.

    • Yes, it would be fabulous for a dinner party. And of course the meat could be taken off the bones first… It’s a bit prehistoric looking as I photographed it!

  8. This looks really amazing! Did you happen to watch The Final Table? That’s a good one, too. P.S. I love the snow on your site. So festive! :-) ~Valentina

    • No, I’ll have to go find that show. I don’t watch many – my favorite is masterchef because the contestants are mostly nice and humble amateurs, unlike the competitive jerks on the other shows. But masterchef Junior is my all time favorite.

  9. I have never cooked with pork shank. I don’t even know if that is a cut here in Australia. I must ask my butcher because the meat looks so tender and delicious!

  10. That looks absolutely superb! I love making risotto and always to try tie in a meat with it, what a yummy idea. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and wishing you all the best for the New Year!

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