Cut from the lower portion of the pig's leg, the pork ham shank is a sizeable cut and includes the shank bone, hence it's name. Since the top portion of the pig's leg is the ham cut, the shank portion is cooked in much the same manner. Cooking shank pork requires the simplest of kitchen equipment and takes roughly the same time and temperature as cooking a ham. A meat thermometer is considered a must when cooking pork shank to ensure the meat reaches the proper internal temperature. It will also prevent your shank from becoming too dry from overcooking.
Thaw your shank portion in the refrigerator if you purchased it frozen. For a small shank, calculate 4 to 5 hours of thawing per pound. This means that you would leave an 8 pound shank in the refrigerator at least a full day before cooking. If you are in a hurry, thaw the meat in a sink filled with cold water and reduce the thawing time to 2 to 3 hours per pound.
Check the weight of your shank portion by reading the label or weighing it after it has thawed. Since shank portions are much narrower than the upper portion of the leg used to make a ham, they require less cooking time. The time you cook your shank portion will be determined by the weight and this number will include the weight of the bone.
Multiply the number of pounds by 35 minutes. If you have a 7 pound shank, then you will need 7 x 35 which equals 245 minutes. Divide this number by 60 and you will have the number of hours you need to cook your shank portion. In this case, 3.18kg requires 4 hours.
Cover the bottom of your roasting pan with aluminium foil for easier clean up. Place a rack on the inside of the roasting pan and place the shank on top of the rack.
Place your ham shank inside a roasting pan. Trim off the fat until you only have 1/4 left on the surface of the ham. Score the fat into a diamond pattern by cutting into the shank 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep. Pour at least two cups of water into the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with aluminium foil.
Insert the thermometer and place inside an oven that is no less than 325F. If you have a meat thermometer that sticks directly into the meat, place it through the tin foil and into the deepest part of the bone so you will be able to read it. If you have an external thermometer, insert the probe and put the thermometer's reader on the counter. Check the thermometer every thirty minutes or so. When the interior of the shank reaches 160F, it is done.
Add any glazes to your shank towards the end of the baking process, within the last hour of cooking. Otherwise, it will be overdone and too sticky to enjoy.
Consult an individual cookbook for ways to make your shank flavoured either with a glaze or special spices. It is not recommended that you baste the shank in its own drippings as this tends to make the shank taste considerably more salty than necessary.
Tips and warnings
- Add any glazes to your shank towards the end of the baking process, within the last hour of cooking. Otherwise, it will be overdone and too sticky to enjoy.
- Consult an individual cookbook for ways to make your shank flavoured either with a glaze or special spices. It is not recommended that you baste the shank in its own drippings as this tends to make the shank taste considerably more salty than necessary.