Yup, a typical Canadian dinner, butt ham, scalloped potatoes, oven roasted beets and creamed corn is a long time Sunday favourite. And, as this was Jan 12, a Sunday why not!
Where the Cut Comes From
Most world cultures eat pig in some form or another, though there are many different ways to butcher, name, and prepare the meat. Recipes and preparations can vary widely from place to place, but in most cases how the cuts are made — which is to say, the actual mechanics of the butchering process — are more or less the same everywhere. The shank portion may not be called “shank” in every language or in every marketplace, but as a style of cut it can almost always be readily identified.
Pork shank is a cut of meat taken from the lower portion of a ham. Traditionally, the word “ham” is reserved for a pig’s back thighs and leg region and usually comes in three sections, one of which is the shank. Cuts from the upper region near the back are called “rump” or “butt,” while “center” cuts come, perhaps not surprisingly, from the middle portion. Most butchers sell pork shank still attached to the leg bone. It tends to be lean but tough, and often takes a lot of time to prepare. Slow roasting, braising, and simmering are some of the most popular ways to cook this type of meat.
Shank’s lower fat content means that it is often a better choice than other cuts, at least from a nutritional perspective. It tends to have fewer calories by weight than most other comparable cuts, including the center ham portion and the rump. Its dense concentration of muscle fibers also means that it is relatively high in iron, manganese, and B vitamins, among other nutrients. People usually need to be careful not to eat to much of the muscle sinew or ligament tissues, though, as these can be difficult to digest and may cause intestinal discomfort if consumed in large quantities. Most of these fall away naturally during cooking, but not always.
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