Saturday, June 9, 2012

Smoky Marinara Sauce (with smoked pork shank)

A rich and smoky, Sunday sauce to fragrance the entire house and warm the soul. It must simmer for a couple hours to render that smoked, pork shank so its falling-off-the-bone tender. But, go grab a piece of crusty, bread and dunk it before Nonna sees you!


Sauce with smoked pork shank (braised-tender)
3- 28 ounce cans of San Marzano plum tomatoes
1 smoked pork shank
8 cloves of garlic (pushed through garlic press)
3-4 tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1 cup of Dry Cooking Sherry (not Cream)
5-6 hot cherry peppers (roughly chopped) (optional)
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil (not EV)
2 tablespoons of dried basil
7-8 fresh basil leaves (torn)
1 teaspoon of kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of cracked black pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese for garnish


Coat a large, cast iron,( or heavy bottom Dutch oven,) on low heat with the olive oil and add garlic. Make sure the heat is low, so the garlic does not brown.  This step allows the garlic to infuse the olive oil. Add the smoked, pork shank to the garlic oil and heat for about 5 minutes.

 Add the whole tomatoes (with juices). Turn heat up to medium-high. stir in the tomato paste, chopped hot cherry peppers, dried basil, salt & pepper, and dry Sherry.  Stir thoroughly, cover and allow to simmer on medium heat for at least an hour.  At this point, the sauce already  has a smokiness  imparted from the shank.

After one hour, remove the smoked pork shank with a slotted spoon, and set aside on a cutting board (you will return this to the sauce).  Turn the heat down to low, and with a potato masher, while the pot is still on the heat, smash the whole tomatoes. You may leave some pieces a bit large, if you like. It depends on how chunky you like your sauce.  Also, you may use a "stick blender," if you have one of those.  I do, but I used a potato masher anyway.

At this point, I returned the pork shank to the sauce, because I wanted to render the meat on the shank so tender that it falls off the bone. You may leave it out if you like. Cook the shank in the sauce until it is very tender, then remoeved it from the sauce, once again, to pull the pieces off the bone. Shred the smoked pork pieces and added them back to the sauce. 

Add the heavy cream, torn basil leaves, and about  1/4 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese. Simmer for another 5 minutes. Skim off any excess oil on the top of the sauce that may have rendered from the pork shank. 

COOK'S NOTE:  * DO NOT add grated cheese to the sauce until the very end, or it will stick to the bottom of the pot. And, whatever you do, please, no not add sugar to this sauce! The sweetness of the Sherry Wine is the perfect lover for the plum tomatoes. They make magic together! Sugar would only contaminate this sauce*