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Pasquale Jones' Tim Caspare Brings an Umbrian Pork Shank to Nolita

Welcome to Meat Feast, a column from Eater's resident carnivore that delves into the world of large-format meals

One of the first, and also the simplest, dishes chef Tim Caspare learned to cook while apprenticing in a Italy was an Umbrian-style pork shank. That was back in 2004, at the beginning of a career that would take him from cooking rustic foods in the rolling hills that surround the Umbrian capital of Perugia, to the kitchen of Eleven Madison Park in NYC, and to the haute California cuisine of Quince and Cotogna in San Francisco. Now, he helms the kitchen of avant garde pizzeria Pasquale Jones in NYC. That's a long way to carry a shank.

Caspare smiles when considering the irony that he is once again cooking such a simple dish, one that was cherished by locals in Umbria precisely for its rusticity. "The cooking in Umbria is ancient, very medieval in many ways," the chef says. "Lots of meat, especially boar, as well as offal, and of course truffles." Truth be told, the experience of cooking in that part of Italy didn't translate into a broad knowledge of Italian cuisine. He didn't, for example, learn to cook risotto until back in the states. Yet, the experience of cooking in a local ristorante and small town life had a profound effect on him.

Tim Caspare

The pork shank that he serves at Pasquale Jones is virtually identical to the one that he cooked all those years ago in Umbria. The chef takes a three to four pound hind shank, removes the skin, and seasons it liberally with salt. It is then covered in a thick pâté made from whipped lardo and seasoned with fennel seed, fennel pollen, rosemary, and garlic. The shank is allowed to rest overnight, curing and absorbing the flavors of the rub.

Removing the skin; seasoning with salt; covering with lardo; resting

The next day, the shank is cooked for five to six hours at a low temperature. Caspare refers to the technique as "broasting," something between roasting and braising. The pan is deglazed with white wine during the cooking process, and the meat is periodically basted. The chef wants the pork to be tender, but not fall apart, like pulled pork barbecue.

Into the oven

When the shank has been cooked to the right consistency, it is finished at high heat to give it a crackling crust and smoky finish.


Smoking shank

Basting; olive oil; lemon juice, fennel pollen.

When it emerges from the oven, it is basted one more time and seasoned with lashings of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and fennel pollen.

The finished pork shank.

Pasquale Jones

187 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, NY 10012 Visit Website

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