Saturday, January 17, 2015

Braised Pork Shanks that melt in your mouth

I love to use my big Le Crueset pots when braising and braising is such a great way to prepare flavorful and fall-off-the bone tender meats.  Every time I am at Las Mercedes Restaurant in Guanajuato, Mexico, I order the Braised Pork Shank.  The wonderful flavors of their pork shank inspired me to create my own recipe.  Needless to say, my pork shanks turned out beautifully and the flavors were sublime, especially the next day.
I ordered three pork shanks from a local deli in downtown Denver.  They came from the Niman Ranch in Colorado noted for their all natural meat products.  Beautiful looking, they weighed about 1 1/2 pounds each.
You must get a good sear on the meat before the braising starts.


4 pork shanks, about 1 1/2 lbs. each
salt and pepper 
olive oil

2 onions, cut to 1/4" pieces
2 celery stalks, cut to 1/4" pieces 
2 carrots, cut to 1/4" pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
4 jalapenos, cut in half and de-seeded
1 tablespoon, fresh oregano, chopped
Sprigs of cilantro, a good hand full
Sprigs of parsley, a good hand full

6 cups chicken stock
2 cups white wine
3 tablespoon tomato paste

Put some flour in a plastic bag.  Season with salt and pepper.
Place one shank at a time into bag and shake to coat the shank.
Lightly tap the shank to knock any excess flour.
Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot.
Brown all sides of the shank.
Remove from pot.

Whip the pot out if their is burned oil and residue on the bottom.
Add a few more tablespoons of olive oil.
Saute onion, clelry and carrots until soft, about 10 minutes.
Add minced garlic and cook another few minutes.

Add the jalapenos, oregano, cilantro and parsley.
Add the chicken stock, wine and tomato paste.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and add shanks.
Add additional chicken broth if the shanks are not covered by the liquids.

Cook, covered in a 350 oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until the pork is about to fall off the bone.

Serving Suggestion:  Serve with some black beans or large white beans.

Buen Provecho!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Allen Tupper- True Murals in the former Colorado National Bank Building

The Renaissance Hotel opened this last year in downtown Denver after an extensive restoration of the former Colorado National Bank building that was built a century ago.  What makes this interior so special are the series of 16 original oil-on-canvas murals.  
Over the years I have fallen in love with murals from the one in the library in Patzcuaro, Mexico depicting the history of the state of Michocan to the murals painted by Siqueros at the Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
Indian Memories is a series of murals painted by the western muralist, Allen Tupper-True.  He also has painted numerous murals in Wyoming and Missouri.  Painted in 1925, the Indian Memories cost $18,000.
There are five triptychs that depict a different aspect of a Native American's life:  Youth, Buffalo Hunt, War, Women and Art Work
The largest of the murals, Happy Hunting Ground, is located above the porte-cochere entrance.  True described this as "an attempt to suggest some of the wonderment, awe and tremendous expectation with which the Indian looked forward to the great adventure of the end of life's trail, platform, as his spirit gazes eagerly at what lies ahead".
A close up of the great chief.  What a wonderful palate of colors.
Youth, located above the Club Lounge, is a few scenes of young boys celebrating their success in their first hunt.  

Young boys are gathered around the crane that one of them had just killed in the hunt. In the middle-foreground of the painting is a Sioux sun symbol.
Buffalo Hunt, located above the entrance to range, depicts a hunter surrounded by smoke from his fire while dreaming of his successful hunt.  The dream is filled with stampeding buffaloes stirring up the dust from the dry ground and warriors mounted on their galloping horses in pursuit.
Women is located above the reception area.
 In this particular scene, an older women in sitting by the edge of a waterfall in which she sees images of her younger self, laughing and splashing water with other young maidens.
Next time you are downtown, stop in the Renaissance for a drink and take in the spectacular murals.  I think you will enjoy the space also.

Renaissance Hotel
The corner of Champa and 17th Street
Downtown Denver

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year

What could be better than starting the new year with a bottle of my favorite sparkling wine,  Kripta Gran Reserva Brut Nature.  The Agusti Torello Mata Cava is one of Spain's finest Cava producers. Only 20% of the estates production is exported.
Aged in the bottle for over 60 months, the Kripta is a blend of 45% Macabeu, 20% Xarello and 35% Parellada from 60-plus year old vines. The color is a bright yellow with a lovely brioche and yeasty bouquet along with a hint of lemon.  It is packaged in a bottle with a rounded bottom designed so that it cannot be placed on the table. 
Along with the Cava, we had Rosti, Swedish potato pancakes.  I know, I did not make them from scratch!  I buy a few boxes at Ikea and they are wonderful.  There are eight to a box.  Bake them for 20 minutes and then fry them in a skillet with a little olive oil, browning on each side.
Serve with some Creme Fraiche (one part sour cream and one part heavy whipping cream. Mix well and let sit overnight on the counter) and caviar.  Can't get any better than this.

Happy New Year and the best to all of you for an exceptional 2015!