Pork leg shank roasts or sometimes called fresh picnic hams are usually very inexpensive to buy. I found this nice 6 pound leg shank for $.99 per pound. For $6.00 I could get several meals from it. Easter was coming and I didn’t have the room in my budget for an Easter ham. I actually still had some slices off of the mark down ham I bought after New Years in my freezer. It was to be my back up plan for Easter. I wasn’t sure how I would make that into a special Easter dinner.
Scouring through the weekly grocery ads. one of my local groceries had fresh picnic pork roasts on sale. That would be where I would shop this week for my Easter dinner. I didn’t need much but I did want to look at the pork roast. There was this beautiful 6 pound shank that was just the right size and price for my budget with a use before date later then Easter Sunday. That meant I did not have to put it in the freezer and worry about thawing it out on Friday. To say the least I was a very happy shopper that day. The roast was vacuumed packed so on a tray it went in the back of my refrigerator.
This left me time to research how to cook it. I kept going back to this Curtis Stone you tube video. My goodness that roast in the video was gorgeous. The question was, did I have the skills to adapt this to my leg shank. I had everything I needed even the dried rosemary, that I dried last summer. He was only roasting the top part of the shank with out the meat and I wanted to roast the whole shank.
I research more and came up with the roasting time and there were other videos I watched so I was pretty confident that I could pull this off this English classic roast. It is slow roasted in the oven so I would have to start it early before noon so it would be done by dinner time. My 6 pound roast took 4 hours to cook. I used the convection for the last hour. My family will not eat meat if it is pink. It takes 2 hours for the carrots and potatoes to roast around the meat. The green beans just a half hour so they are the last to go into the roaster. I buy a few extra pounds when they are in season and string them leaving them whole to use as special side dish and put them in the freezer. The British normally cooks the root vegetables in a separate pan. Traditionally the vegetables was cooked around the meat by the cooks in my family and that is what I did.
To score the top, I had to use a exacto knife. Pigs skin is very tough. Make sure that the skin is dry before you start. You can pour boiling water over it after you are finished with the scoring. This will open up the skin and helps with making the crackling top. The rub I used with the rosemary was from this heirloom recipe of beau monde rub.
Beau Monde Spice Blend
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 bay leaf ground
Since I all ready had a jar of this seasoning made all I had to do was grind the rosemary with the rub.
You can read about the history of this rub here.
The oven was preheated to 450 degrees. The reason for this was to seer the meat and seal in all the juices while it slow baked. Water was first added to the bottom of the pan and the roast was placed on a foil wrapped rack that had some little holes punched in it. The foil just makes the clean up easier. I placed the roast in the oven with out a lid for 30 minutes at that high temperature. Then I turned down the temperature to 325 degrees and place the lid to the roasting pan on. My New Good Housekeeping Cookbook listed the cooking time at 45 minutes per pound at that temperature. So it would be another 3 hours 45 minutes.
I set the timer for every 30 minutes to remind me to baste the roast. I did have to add water during the cooking time. In the mean time I prepared my carrots and potatoes and put them in a bowl of salted water. You can use any combination of root vegetables you want. Two hours before the roast was to be done. I lifted the roast up and filled the bottom of the pan with the carrots and potatoes. Seasoned them with salt, pepper and smoked paprika, which I placed the roast on top. I returned the roast back to the oven with the lid on. In the last hour I turned on my convection to speed things up a little. Convection will cook things 25 % faster. The last half hour I added some frozen green beans around the side of the roast and kept the lid off to brown up everything and make it crispy.
When the meat pulls away from the bone like in the above picture you will know that it is getting close to being done. In the above picture this shows what it will look like when the meat is tender and ready to fall off the bone.
I did it. I had a beautiful crispy crackling top and very juicy tender meat when I cut it. I was so afraid the meat would be dry but it wasn’t. I saved the pan juices to serve with the meat. The crackling was delicious. It was a new eating experience for me and my family. I intend to make this again and again. The little strip of the crackling is really tasty.
Even when you are low on money, you can still have a great meal. Just takes a little planning ahead.