serves 12

for the brine:
½ tablespoon black peppercorn
½ tablespoon fennel seed
½ tablespoon mustard seed
½ tablespoon coriander seed
½ tablespoon red chili flake
4 quarts water
1½ cups salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 apples, quartered
1 onion, peeled and quartered
5 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 sprig tarragon
1 small piece ginger, smashed
4 pork shanks (about 1½lb each)
4 quarts icefor the braise:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1 bulb funnel, quartered and sliced
5 dried shitake mushrooms
¼ cup coconut milk plus additional ½ cup
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 dried thai chilies
8 cups chicken stockbrining the pork shanks:
  1. in a small dry skillet set over medium heat, toast spices while stirring constantly until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. in a large stockpot combine water, salt, sugar, toasted spices, and aromatics. bring to a boil. once the brine begins to boil remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  3. place the pork shanks and ice in a large pot or storage container. pour cooled brine over and cover. refrigerate for 12 hours.
braising the pork shanks:
  1. preheat the oven to 300°F
  2. remove pork shanks from the brine. rinse under cold water, removing any of the spices and aromatics. pat dry with paper towels and allow them to air-dry for an additional 20 minutes.
  3. meanwhile, in a roasting pan set over two burners, heat the olive oil. sweat the carrot, onion and fennel over medium-low heat until they begin to release liquid and soften, about 5 minutes. add dried shitakes, ¼ cup coconut milk, worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, thai chilies and chicken stock. bring to a boil then reduce to a steady simmer.  nestle shanks into simmering liquid, adding more stock and coconut milk if necessary. wrap the pan with foil and roast in the oven until tender, 3 ½ – 4 hours.
  4. when the shanks are tender, remove the pan from the oven and cool to room temperature. remove shanks from braising liquid and strain, disregarding the solids. either place the shanks and liquid in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or preheat the oven to 375°F.
  5. place the shanks on a sheet tray or roasting dish and cook until the skin is crispy, about 30 minutes. (if using shanks that have been refrigerated, allow them to come to room temperature.)
  6. meanwhile, return the liquid to a medium saucepan and bring to a steady boil. reduce the liquid by half. add coconut milk and butter to reach desired consistency. season with salt.
  7. remove the shanks from the oven and place on a serving platter. drizzle the shanks with the sauce and serve, passing more sauce at the table.
  8. note: for added texture and flavor, toss in some sautéed mushrooms to the finished sauce.