The smoked pork shank is a delectable but often overlooked pork recipe that you should definitely try soon. My recipe uses pork and spices cooked at a low temperature which makes the tough cut more tender. The result is a delectable cut of pork that tastes amazing.
I learned how to prepare smoked shanks in culinary school, and I’ll be sharing the valuable tips I learned with you. Continue reading to discover my smoked pork shank recipe.
How to Smoke Pork Shanks?
Here, I’ll highlight what you’ll need and the preparation steps to help you smoke pork shank.
- 4 pork shanks
- 1/4 cup of yellow mustard
- 1 cup of barbecue sauce
- 1/2 cup of barbecue dry rub
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar or apple juice
Step 1: Prepare the Pork Shank
First, trim the meat with a sharp knife. Remove stray pieces of fat, bones, meat, and silverskin from the meat. Then rinse off the cut and set it aside. You can also remove any remaining skin from the meat if you don’t like crispy skin.
However, if you prefer the skin on, make crisscross cuts on the skin to increase the surface area and enable the seasoning to stick properly. After trimming, pat the meat dry with a paper towel.
Now, it’s time to apply the spice rub to the meat. First, use a brush and coat the shank with a thin coat of yellow mustard. The yellow mustard will allow the rub to stick to the meat and add flavor to the shank.
After you’re done coating the meat with yellow mustard, sprinkle the BBQ rub on the shank and rub the spices in. Make sure you thoroughly rub the spices all over the pork.
When you’ve seasoned the shank to your liking, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours to allow the spices to permeate the pork.
Step 2: Prepare the Smoker
Remove your shanks from the fridge about 30 minutes before cooking time to allow them to come to room temperature. Now, load your grill with fuel and light the smoker. Preheat the smoker to 250 °F.
Step 3: Smoke the Pork Shank
When your smoker is heated, place the shank on the grates and start smoking. Smoke the meat to an internal temperature of about 190 °F. You can expect the smoking process to take 4 to 6 hours.
Keep an eye on the smoker and maintain the smoker’s temperature during the cooking process. Remember to spritz the meat with apple cider vinegar or apple juice every 30 minutes to add flavor and keep the shank meat moist.
Step 4: Rest the Meat
When the meat reaches the desired internal temperature, remove it from the cooker, slather it with BBQ sauce, and wrap it in foil to allow the meat to rest. Wrapping the meat in foil allows the meat to reabsorb its juices, resulting in a more succulent and delicious cut.
Allow the meat to rest for 10–20 minutes, then remove the foil and serve with your favorite side dishes. You can serve smoked pork shank with:
- Rice: This starchy side dish complements the rich gravy flavor well. Keep in mind that this combo is quite filling.
- Potatoes: Mashed potatoes are smooth and creamy. Their mild flavor pairs well with the richly flavorful pork. You can also roast the potatoes for a more crunchy side dish.
- Baked beans: This side dish is both filling and delicious. The sweet flavors of the beans pair wonderfully with the smoked pork shank.
- Roasted vegetables: Veggies like Brussels sprouts and carrots pair well with the shank when roasted. If you want a more earthy flavor, roast root vegetables like turnips, beets, and zucchini.
- Salad: Salads are a light and healthy side dish to eat with smoked shanks. A well-dressed salad also adds more crunch to the overall dish. You can eat the shank with potato salad, coleslaw, Caesar salad, etc.
What is Pork Shank?
The pork shank is derived from the pig’s forearm. This cut consists of numerous connective tissues and muscle fibers, which make the meat lean and tough. For this reason, pork shanks are best cooked at low temperatures to properly break down the tissues and unlock the delicious flavor. Moreover, the bone marrow in the shank will render when smoked and impart a smooth, buttery flavor to the meat.
How to Store Pork Shank?
Firstly, allow the smoked pork shank to cool before storing. Place the shank in an airtight bag or container. The pork shank will last for up to four days in the refrigerator. If you want to keep the cooked shanks for a longer time, freeze them. Once the dish has completely cooled, tightly wrap it in cling film and place it in a freezer-safe container. Your smoked pork shank should last in the freezer for about three months.
How to Reheat Pork Shank?
Before reheating your pork shank, allow it to defrost. If you stored the meat in the freezer, remove it and place it in the fridge to thaw overnight. There are several ways to reheat pork shanks, including:
- Oven: Preheat the oven to 300°F, place the smoked pork shank in the baking pan, and cover with foil. Heat the meat for about 30 minutes, or until the meat’s temperature reads 165 degrees F.
- Slow cooker: Place the smoked pork shank in the slow cooker and cook on low heat for about three hours.
- Stovetop: Cooking on the stovetop involves placing the shank meat in a saucepan or with some broth to cook. Remember to cook on low heat, stirring occasionally.
How to Buy Pork Shank?
Being able to spot the best pork shank cut will make your dish even better. Here are a few things to consider when looking for a great shank:
Select meat that feels firm but is not overly tough. Although pork shank is lean, there should be enough fat to keep it from drying out while cooking. Before purchasing meat, a useful tip is to indent it with your finger.
Additionally, look for a pork shank with noticeable muscle striation. The meat’s surface should be grainy and coarse.
Remember, you can always ask for assistance when buying the meat from the local butcher shop or grocery store.
Best Wood Chips for Smoking Pork Shank
When it comes to smoking pork, I prefer to keep the wood chips to a minimum. This is because I want the shank’s natural flavors to shine through and not be overpowered by the smoke.
Best Smoker Temperature for Pork Shanks
While many people prefer to raise the temperature to allow the shank to cook faster, I prefer to keep it low at 250F. This cooking temperature ensures that the meat cooks low and slow, allowing all of the tough tissues and muscles to break down and become tender.
You can increase the heat to 275F if you want. However, make sure you pay close attention to the meat so it doesn’t dry out. Unlike braised pork shanks, chicken stock isn’t added to the dish to make it more tender. As a result, you must rely on the cooking temperature to perfectly cook the meat.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Should I Wrap the Pork Shank?
When smoking meat, there is always the possibility of the meat stalling. When this happens, you must wrap the meat in butcher paper or foil so that it can continue cooking. Wrapping isn’t necessary for shanks because they are a small cut of meat and will not stall. So, there’s no need to wrap the meat during the cooking process.
2. Pork Shank vs. Pork Hock: What’s the Difference?
The hock is derived from the pig’s lower leg, near the ankle. On the other hand, the shank is located just above this region. Both these cuts are similar in texture because of the presence of connective tissue around the area.
Smoked pork shanks are a delectable dish that every barbecue enthusiast should try at least once. The smoking process involves, trimming the meat, applying rub, smoking, and letting it rest before carving and savoring the dish. If you still haven’t eaten pork shanks, what are you waiting for? Follow my instructions so you can prepare the most delicious smoked pork shank you’ve ever had.