Smoking Pork Shank - Any Pointers?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by bigxred, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. bigxred

    bigxred Newbie

    Hello everyone, 

    I am new to this forum and relatively new to the whole smoking experience. This is my first summer doing it and I've hit only a few bumps so far. My family has really come to like the food I've produced (so early on) and they've asked if I cook smoke something up for this upcoming Father's Day. Of course, I couldn't resist to say yes :)

    One meat that my family has always come to love is pork shank. I know that its not very common and difficult to come by, but we eat it quite often. It's a meat that I feel would turn out phenomenal in a smoker. Has anyone tried smoking some shanks before? I have not had very much luck in trying to find a recipe (something along the same format as Mr. Phillips' work). If not a recipe, would anyone be able to provide some pointers? How much time do you feel it would take to smoke the shanks? I plan to do around 4-5 pieces. Should I brine the meat before hand and if so, for how long? Also, I know that for ribs, its a good idea to put the rub onto the meat and let it cool a few hours before you throw it in the smoker. This allows for the "bark" to form. Would it be a good idea to take this same approach for the shanks?

    Any guidance on this would be greatly appreciated. I am going to have some hungry fathers to feed this upcoming Sunday (I am the youngest son of the family) and do not by any means want to disappoint them. 
  2. stanjk

    stanjk Smoke Blower

    Well, this is what I do with pork shanks; use them primarily to throw into a pot of beans. It's a little late to do for FD but you might be able to brine and hot smoke them without curing for a quicker result. 

    5 pounds pork shanks, approx. 1 pound each
    1 quart water
    7 1/2 ounces salt, 70% brine solution
    45 grams brown sugar
    30 grams cure #1

    Inject shanks with 2 1/4 ounces of brine solution. Place injected shanks into remaining brine mix and place in refrigerator for 5 days.

    Rinse shanks with cold water and soak in running water for 30 minutes (starting point). Test for saltiness.

    Place shanks on racks and let dry for 6 to 8 hours at room temperature.

    Put shanks in 130F smoker for 3 hours, gradually raising temperature to 170F in 10 degree increments.

    Cook until internal temperature of 142F is reached.

    Shower shanks in cold water to reduce temperature. Allow shanks to dry.

    Hope this helps some.
  3. bigxred

    bigxred Newbie

    Stanjk, thank you for the recipe! However, I'll be honest that I'm sort of confused by some parts of it. I obviously do not have enough time to cure the meat in time for this Sunday. I am curious about this process though for the next time I'd be smoking up some shanks. What is the purpose of curing the pork? Does it add anything to the flavor of the meat?

    Also, what do you mean by putting the shanks into a pot of beans? I've never heard of eating them that way. 

    Also, from my understanding, you are drying the meat once you pull it out of the smoker. Is that right?

    I am of eastern European descent (as is my entire family) and we tend to eat pork shanks warm, typically mixed in with a saurkraut soup. I am hoping to be able to cook the shanks and serve them warm as well for Sunday right out of my ECB smoker ;)
  4. stanjk

    stanjk Smoke Blower

    The purpose of the cure is to allow the shanks to smoke at low temps for about 6 hours without worrying about spoilage.  Adding nitrites to meat will improve flavor, prevent food poisoning, tenderize the meat, and develop the pink color widely known and associated with smoked meats.

    I throw in a shank when making beans (from dry beans), adds a nice smokey flavor and when the beans are done I just remove the bones and chop up the shank and mix it in with the beans. 

    The drying part is mainly for storage purposes and to let the hocks cool down. I usually vacuum pack and freeze them for future use. But their always served hot, either in beans or soups/stews (like you do). The sauerkraut soups sound good (Polish?).

    Hot smoking sounds like the way to go for you this weekend. 

    Take a look at this site, lots of info about curing/smoking.

    Good luck, let us know how it went; pics and recipes are always welcome :)

    Last edited: Jun 13, 2014

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