Shank Admiration

Shank Admiration

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Three Bites Issue: January 2017
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The Blind Pig
3370 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
“When pigs fly” is one of the English language’s all-time great tropes, but is it obsolete now that we’ve discovered pigs have wings? Made from pork shanks – à la osso bucco – “pig wings” consist of a single bone surrounded by lean, tender meat. They’re reminiscent of spare ribs in flavor and texture, but prepared in the manner of chicken wings. At The Blind Pig in Scottsdale, chef/co-owner Jim Molinari deep-fries his pig wings ($8, pictured) then tosses them in a sweet and smoky chipotle barbecue sauce. Finally, he chars the plump shanks on the grill to achieve a crispy exterior around a succulent, meaty interior. Molinari serves the wings with a house-made creamy jalapeño ranch dipping sauce laced with poblano peppers and fresh cilantro alongside a mélange of pickled vegetables. The beauty of pig wings? “You don’t have to eat them with a fork and knife,” Molinari says.

SoSoBa: The Nonstop Noodle Shop
214 W. Roosevelt St., Phoenix
Even though SoSoBa is primarily a ramen shop, they rock some memorable sharing plates, including cherry yazhi pork wings ($12). Chef Nick “Panda” Clark dips the precooked shanks in rice flour, then deep-fries the meaty morsels to achieve a crunchy coating. Next, he bathes the pork in a rich cherry sauce fashioned from puréed sweet amarena cherries mixed with salty soy and teriyaki lit up with ghost peppers. He rests the shanks on a puffy bed of deep-fried rice noodles seasoned with togarashi, a Japanese spice mixture heavy on dried chile pepper and orange peel, and garnishes the whole affair with scallions, chopped peanuts and sesame seeds.

O.H.S.O. Brewery + Distillery
Three Valley locations
O.H.S.O’s corporate chef Anthony Garcia put pork wings ($14) on the menu as an alternative to ubiquitous chicken wings and serves up a respectable full pound suitable for sharing. Garcia covers the shanks with a dry rub of brown sugar and spices, slow-roasts them for four hours until they’re fall-apart tender and finishes them with a dunk in the deep-fryer. “It’s like eating a piece of crispy bacon,” he says. For dipping, Garcia offers a Pacific island barbecue sauce with sweet and spicy notes, brightened with orange and lemon juices and fresh ginger. They harbor as much or more flavor than their winged poultry cousins, but without the obligatory plate of spent bones and pile of napkins. “These are nice and easy,” Garcia says.

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