It is soon winter and it gets  dark early in the afternoon in Denmark, and the evenings are long. We are all waiting for the Christmas season and while we wait, we love to make hearty, robust dishes such as pork shanks with mashed potatoes. Here in Denmark we are also quite fond of using beer in stead of wine. If you have couple of hours a lazy Saturaday afternoon, be sure and try this recipe. It is popular with both young an old.

Be sure and stop by next week when I begin to write about all the lovely Danish traditions at Christmas time.

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4 main course servings

Depending on the size of the shanks, two may not be enought for 4 people. If the dinner guests are 4 young men, count on a shank for each person.

2 (3lbs. each) pork shanks, 1 cup diced carrots, 1 cup diced leeks, 1 cup diced onion, 2 tsp. minced garlic 2-3 sprigs of thyme, 2-3 sage leaves, 10 black peppercorns, 2 cups vegetable broth, 1 dark beer

Beets: 4 red beets, 3-4 oz. coarse salt, 1 tbsp. rapeseed oil, ½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 3 oz. blueberries, chopped fresh thyme

Sauce: 2 tbsp. butter, 2tbsp. apple cider vinegar, salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F.

To make the port shanks, score fat in a cross-hatch pattern in rind without cutting into the meat itself. Brown shanks in the warm oven 10-15 minutes until shanks begin to caramelize. Place pork in a large heavy ovenproof pot, with a tight fitting lid; arrange carrots, leeks, onions, garlic, thyme, sage, peppercorns and bay leaves around the pork. Add broth and beer. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover and transfer to the oven.

Reduce the heat to 300°F an braise 1½ – 2 hours-

To make the red beets, was 4 beets and place them in a roasting pan no larger than just enough to hold them. Cover beets with salt. Set beets in oven next to shanks an bake 1½ hours. Transfer beets to a plate and let them cool off. When cool, remove skins and slice them into thin slices. Whisk rapeseed oil and vinegar together with thyme, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add blueberries and beets to bowl an toss so that blueberries an beets are covered.

To make the sauce, transfer shanks to a plate. Strain braising liquid into a pot and cook over high heat until reduced by half. Add apple cider vinegar and whisk butter in. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, place shanks on a platter and arrange beets and blueberries around shanks. Garnish with thyme sprigs. Pass the sauce separately.

Sugested accompaniement: mashed potatoes.

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