CHILE BRAISED VENISON SHANKS with HOMINY PORRIDGE
Most people are familiar with hominy in the classic Mexican dish "pozole". Here the texture is smooth and the flavor is similar but with a more pronounced hominy flavor. I like to serve this dish with a little crunchy topping of toasted pumpkin seeds or fried green plantains.
Venison shanks are my top choice for braised dishes other than the neck. This simple yet flavorful dish lets the shanks shine for what they are. If you don't have any shanks in the freezer, you can sub it out with a shoulder roast.
For the Shanks
4 venison shanks
3 tablespoons high smoke point cooking oil
1 large onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 roma tomatoes, diced
1 cup dry red white wine
1 quart stock (venison, chicken or beef)
1 cinnamon stick
3 dried arbol chiles
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
For the Hominy Porridge
(double the recipe if you're hungry)
one 25 ounce can of hominy, drained and rinsed
1 quart chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Braise the shanks. Preheat your oven to 330 degrees F. In a large dutch oven, heat the cooking oil over medium high heat. Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Once the pan is hot and the oil is just starting to smoke, add the venison shanks. Cook on all sides until the meat is nice and golden brown. Work in batches if needed. Set the meat to the side on a plate. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the onions, bell peppers and garlic. Cook for about 8 minutes or until the onions are translucent while stirring often. Add the remaining ingredients, cover and cook in the preheated oven for about 3 hours or until tender. The shanks need to be about 3/4 of the way covered with cooking liquid. If you do not have enough, add in a bit more stock.
Make the hominy porridge. In a medium sized pot add the hominy, stock and bayless. Bring to a slow simmer, cover half way with a lid and cook slowly until the hominy is tender, about 45 minutes. Reserving the liquid, drain the hominy and discard the bay leaf. Place the drained hominy into a blender with the butter, lemon juice and 1 cup of stock. Start pureeing the hominy and slowly adding in more cooking liquid until you reach a porridge consistency. You want it to be able to just coat the back of the spoon. Add the butter, season with salt and pepper and puree again. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed. (Cooks note: For a little added texture, save a few pieces of whole hominy to add to the final dish).
Time to plate up. You have two options here. For a presentation wow factor, serve the shanks bone-in on a large plate or shred the meat off of the bone and serve in a bowl. You want to have a little hominy on the bottom, topped off with the meat, some cooking liquid from the meat for added flavor. I like to top mine off with fresh cilantro or basil and toasted pumpkin seeds.