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Hot Smoked Pork Shanks

( "Brabant Ham" - Winter Barbecue )

Pork shanks are also named pork hocks, schweinshaxe or eisbein, and are the fore or hind leg part between knee and ankle (the pig's feet are sold separately). The meat in pork shanks consists of work muscles and while this meat is not super tender, it is absolutely full of taste!

While not so famous as pork ribs, pork shanks are a beautiful product. Although this tasty cut of meat is not suitable for fast preparation on a hot grill, pork shanks are ideal for slow roasting in a closed barbecue. Hot smoking pork shanks is really very easy.

We first treated these barbecue pork shanks to a spicy-sweet mustard dry rub, then hot smoked them for three hours on charcoal briquettes and chunks of oak smoke wood.

Hot Smoked Pork Shanks

By indirect grilling in combination with hot smoking these pork hocks will be cooked until very tender. The tendons and membrane tissue in between the various muscles inside the hot smoked pork hocks will thereby dissolve, making it possible to suck the meat right off the bone.

Pork Shanks from the Supermarket Ingredients

For this hot smoked pork shanks recipe you will need the following ingredients:

2 each
3-4 tablespoons
Pork Shanks / Pork Hocks (about 1.5 pounds each, skin may be left on if still there)
Mustard Dry Rub

Juancho's Mustard Rub Juancho's Mustard Rub
"Juancho's Mustard Rub" is great to spice up chicken or lamb, and is an absolute winner on pork!

Juancho's BBQ Tip
In the colder parts of the world, each season will bring its own traditional food. For our barbecue this has its drawbacks, but is also has great advantages.
For example, in the Netherlands and Belgium, in winter, spare ribs are not widely available in butcher shops. However, they are replaced by other cuts of meat to suit the favourite winter staple of the clients. Opportunities for the BBQ!


Preparation of the meat


Rinse the porkshanks under cold running water, removing all loose particles (especially bone), dangling pieces of meat or excess fat;


Photo of Pork Shanks, ready to receive a dry rub massage. Blot porkshanks dry using paper towels; If necessary and/or desired, remove the membrane around the meat as much as possible, or puncture holes in it, to allow the flavours in the rub to penetrate the meat as much as possible;


For every pound of meat and bone, work 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of Juancho's Mustard Rub over the hog shanks, ensuring all sides are evenly covered; I prefer to work the dry rub into the meat using my hands;

Juancho's Split Grill

Juancho's Split Grill To obtain sustained lower heat and improved temperature control inside the barbecue, and to increase the grate area and thus to be able to accommodate more meat or larger cuts of meat, I set up my relatively small Weber Grill for indirect grilling on one side as per the method that I call Juancho's Split Grill.

Hot Smoked Pork Shanks = Slow Food

As these slowfood pork shanks will have to cook on slow heat for a number of hours, I use a electronic thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature inside the barbecue.

By opening and closing the barbecue's bottom vent holes you can keep the temperature inside the barbecue within a certain range.

For hot smoking pork shanks my goal was to keep the temperature inside the barbecue within the 300F - 350F range (roughly 150-180 degrees celcius).

This may seem very easy, but you have to watch it...

Winter Barbecue

Here at Hot Smoke BBQ we keep smokin' all year long, winter, spring, summer and fall, just about every weekend.

The Hot Smoke BBQ motto:
Rain with barbecue is better than rain without barbecue.

Even in winter, as long as it doesn't rain too hard, it is always nice to be outside in the yard or on the balcony, next to your hot barbecue.

Photo of winter barbecue. If necessary, put some extra clothes on, set a large umbrella, or organize some make-shift shelter. Huddle together! It does not hurt!

Photo of pork shanks and small piece of boneless ham on the barbecue grate.

Let's Smoke!

With those lovely pork hocks sitting in that black backyard coal-fired microwave, take it easy. Have a drink, have a seat, check the fire, look at that smoke swirling through your backyard.

While you smell those smoking pork hocks, read a book, listen to your favourite music. Relax.

Keep monitoring the temperature inside your barbecue, and try to resist peeking under the lid too often. Every time you open your smoker you will loose heat, and the cooking process will take longer.

On the other hand, if you have time anyway, what the heck...

For a detailed log of the hot smoking of these pork hocks, kindly visit "A Smoker's Diary - BBQ Pork Hocks".

Photo of pork shanks after two hours of hot smoking in the barbecue smoker. After about 2 hours of smoking at temperature in between (roughly) 290F and 360F, I opened the lid of the barbecue to check if everything was OK.

At this point in time, a nice brown bark had developed on these smoking pork shanks!

Besides the pork shanks, I was also smoking a cut of fresh boneless ham, which at this point in time had reached an internal temperature of 156F, so it was almost (medium) done.

Photo of the pork shanks during hot smoking in the barbecue smoker. After almost three hours of hot smoking, the temperature inside the largest of the pork shanks has reached 168F. Bones start protruding, meaning that the meat is starting to get well done;

Photo of hot smoked pork shanks, just out of the barbecue smoker. After almost 3.5 hours of smoking, the internal temperature of the thickest pork shank has reached 182F. Bones are protruding well from the meat.

Transferred the smoked pork hocks from the grill to a cutting board, covered them with aluminium foil, and let them rest so internal juices can redistribute inside the meat.

In the meantime, Juanita serves another glass of that beautiful Malbec... tastes great, but we take it easy - sensible and grown up as we are!     ;-)

After a half hour rest, we went to dinner. The pork shanks have kept nice and warm under the aluminium foil. Under a thin bark, the meat is juicy and full of flavour, falls off the bone, and shows a nice smoke ring.

Everybody enjoys the Q! Mission accomplished.

For a detailed log of the hot smoking of these pork hocks, kindly visit "A Smoker's Diary - BBQ Pork Hocks".

Photo of hot smoked pork shanks (photo by Harry). These tender pork shanks were smoked until the meat fell off the bone!

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The PitBoss Suggests:

Enjoy the meat of these hot smoked pork shanks - hot or cold - cut or pulled to pieces, with some mayonaise, mustard and a slice of pickle on a freshly baked sesame bun!

Photo of Juanita's Pea Soup. Hot smoked pork shanks are excellent company for baked beans, pea soup or sauerkraut.

Other good combinations:

Hot Smoke Barbecue Fries Hot Smoke Barbecue Fries
Once you have tried these smoke-grilled potatoes, you won't be able to resist making them every time you see some spare space on the grate...

Juanita's American Coleslaw Juanita's American Coleslaw
This salad is pretty robust and can be prepared a couple of hours in advance. It combines absolutely great with any meat from your barbecue.

At Hot Smoke BBQ we love chile peppers!

Keep Smokin' !