I've already mentioned our CSA from North Mountain Pastures, but I would be remiss if I didn't at least give another shout out to "our" farm in nearby Perry County. We might not be the most on top of it when it comes to sustainable living, or always make the most responsible choices, but the decision to budget in this meat CSA has done some incredible things for us. One, we eat less meat. The portions from our 20 pound share end up being pretty reasonable. The four to five pound chickens make for a lovely Sunday Dinner, then a good amount of stock, plus lunch chicken salad, chicken soup, chicken for tetrazzini...you name it! For the beef and the pork, the amounts are much closer to what is appropriate for meals (you know, instead of eating an entire side of beef in one setting. I'm not saying I've ever done that...but I'm not saying I haven't). Two, we are giving our money to a local farm. There used to be a lot more farms around this area. To help support, in some small way, one of them makes my heart happy. Three, our weekly grocery shopping bills are so much lower because I'm mostly buying produce from week to week, and very little else. I'd say the grocery cart is 70% produce, 15% dairy and eggs, the rest pantry items and things like cereal or tissues. Finally, I feel a little better about feeding my family meat protein. Bonus, when the farm has it's December and January hiatus, I get to be creative and find some pretty awesome vegetarian and vegan recipes!
For today's recipe, I am sharing my version of this recipe found and pinned on my board for CSA recipes. I'm not kidding. I made a board just for CSA recipes because we've received cuts of meat I've never even heard of before, and certainly haven't prepared in the past! The first time I made this recipe, I followed it exactly...and grumbled the entire time that the whole point of the crockpot was to save you work. The set up had me full on browning, sweating, and deglazing. The end result was good, but I was still bitter. The second go was more of a "throw everything in!! NOW!" before I rushed out the door to work, and let me tell you, it was every bit as yummy. I honestly couldn't tell any difference, and neither could my family. Therefore, I will present it below "my" way. The link is above to give credit and for you to be able to check out both ways!
Crock Pot Pork Shanks
adapted from meatified August 2013 Slow Cooker Pork Shanks
2-4 Pork Shanks (we usually get about 2-3 when they show up in the CSA)
3-4 good sized carrots, diced (you'll see below I just sort of chopped them roughly, that worked too)
3 stalks celery, diced
2 onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large container of baby bella sliced mushrooms, cleaned
3 springs of thyme, leaves removed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup chicken stock
15 ounces chopped tomatoes (I used canned, with juices)
Zest of one lemon, juice from half
Place carrots, onions, garlic, and celery in the bottom of your crockpot. Cover pork shanks with a generous amount of kosher salt and crushed black pepper. Arrange pork shanks on top of carrot mixture, place mushrooms to cover pork shanks. Sprinkle with thyme leaves, oregano, and salt. Pour over chicken stock and tomatoes. Cook on low 7-8 hours or high for 4 hours. When done, remove pork shanks, keep warm. Ladle about half of the veggies and fluid from the crockpot into a high powered blender. Add the lemon zest and juice, blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper as needed. Pour your vegetable gravy back into the crockpot, remove meat from bones and stir pork back into the mix. Serve over polenta, mashed potatoes, rice, noodles, zoodles, etc. and enjoy!