When you think of ossobuco, you most likely think of Ossobuco alla Milanese, a fabulous recipe from Milan, Italy made with braised veal shanks which just happens to be one of my all time favorite meals.
The name osso buco comes from the Italian Western Lombard language and translated means “hole bone” which is the shank that is filled with bone marrow that’s quite delicious. I like to remove it and use it in the sauce or just spoon it out and eat it as an extra treat at the end of the meal.
My First Experience with “PorkoBuco”
My wife and are were out for dinner at this small but fun Italian BYOB restaurant in Philadelphia with a group of friends after just attending the annual Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Car Show fund raiser.
We are dressed to the nines and find ourselves in this hole-in-the-wall restaurant with three large birthday parties going on around us, everyone having a great time. By the end of the night, everyone is singing happy birthday to anyone who dare claims they had a birthday in the past year. There is birthday cake being shared between tables, a very festive night.
The food in this place is terrific so we are all excited to hear the specials. The waiter comes over and says, “You all know what veal ossobuco is right? Well, we don’t have it tonight. Instead we are serving porkobuco!”
Since I’ve never had it before, I thought I would give it a try and ordered it. Pork osso buco is made just like the veal version except you use the pork shank instead of the veal shank.
Great Big Inexpensive Piece of Meat
The pork shank is big, meaty and looks more like a lamb shank and best of all is a fraction of the cost of veal shanks and much cheaper than lamb shanks. I think I paid under $3 per pound at my favorite pork butcher, Stolzfus Meats, in the Ardmore Farmers Market.
You may be more familiar with cured pork shanks, also called ham hocks that are sold for making split pea soup. You don’t want to use these for this recipe. If you can’t find fresh pork shanks, just ask your butcher to order you some and don’t let him overcharge you for them. They are very inexpensive.
One shank is enough for one person and makes an awesome display when served on mashed potatoes with that big bone sticking out. But be sure to buy extra shanks because there is nothing like leftover pork shank served over egg noodles with that rich incredible sauce.
The technique for cooking pork shanks or any shank for that matter is braising. Because the shank is a tough, inexpensive cut of meat, it needs long, slow moist cooking in a relatively low temperature to break down the tough connective tissue. If you have ever made a stew or pot roast, you used the technique of braising.