Sometimes what you think might be a mistake can end up being one of the best things that you have ever done. I ordered some pork shanks from our local butcher. My goal was to make pork wings, which are made from the shank. Well, I didn’t explain myself well and what I ended up with was a big bag of shanks that had been cut in half, which definitely weren’t going to work for pork wings. Well, a quick glance around the web and I found tons of great recipes for braising shanks, which I will do but I also found the idea of smoking them and using them in the place of smoked hocks. Now that’s an idea I can get excited about because I love hocks and beans. So I took 8 of the shanks (trust me, I have plenty more), brined them for a while and then smoked them. The end result was tender, perfectly smoky-flavored shanks that were amazing in a big pot of beans.
I wouldn’t hesitate at all to get more shanks from my butcher for no other reason than to smoke them. They’ll be great this fall and winter in soups and stews. They also fit in well with my ‘no empty space on the smoker’ rule, which says if you’re going to fire up your smoker, use all available room that you have. No point in wasting smoke. Shanks are the perfect size for using up valuable smoker grate space in my opinion.
- 4 pork shanks cut in half (ask your butcher to cut them for you), so you'll end up with 8 smoke shanks in the end
- 1 gallon water
- 2/3 cup Kosher salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons Tender Quick
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon crumbled dried thyme
- Combine all ingredients in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Bring the water to a simmer and stir until the salt is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and let cool completely.
- Place shanks into a large resealable container.
- Add the marinade. Seal and refrigerate for 1-3 days.
- Rinse with water and place in cold water for 1 hour..
- Fire up your smoker for cooking at 225 F. I used hickory wood and added a few more chunks than I normally would for say ribs so that I got a good strong smoke flavor in the shanks.
- Remove the shanks from the brine and pat dry.
- Transfer to the smoker and smoke for 3-5 hours until the internal temperature reaches 160 F.