Tough, humble pork neck bones braised into tender chunks of the most flavorful of meats. The meat is no knife needed tender.
There are several bones to maneuver around, but it’s well worth it. Not only is the meat everything, but the resulting gravy is also an added bonus and makes everything it touches golden!
Neck bones, beef or pork, are the ultimate comfort food. It's also that classic soul food. It's on the menu in just about any hole in the wall soul food joint or served monthly in Southern households. It's one of my mom's favorite dishes and I made this with her in mind.
Braised Neck Bones Ingredients
- Pork Neck Bones
- Cider Vinegar
- Chicken Stock
- Garlic Cloves
- Pickled Peppers
- Pickled Cactus (optional)
- Canned Chipotle Peppers plus adobe sauce
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
How to Cook Neck Bones (step by step)
Braising neck bones is an easy cook. It just requires time and patience. Neck bones have lots of collagen and slow cooking over long period allows that collagen to break down and produce those tender delicious results.
Step 1: Wash the neck bones then season
Step 2: Brown the neck bones
Step 3: Saute the vegetables
Step 4: Cook the neck bones (350 degrees for 1 ½ hours)
Pork neck bones go great over a nice bowl of grits or rice. Neck bones, gravy, and rice is actually a complete meal. I also typically have sides like a greens and/or black-eyed pea dish sich as any of these:
Tips for Cooking Neck Bones
- Wash the neck bones thoroughly and then dry them before cooking
- Brown the neck bones well before braising. This locks in the flavor and ensure caramelization. Plus it renders pork neck bone fat to saute the vegetables in, creating even more flavor.
- Make sure you use a heavy lid when braising. For insurance if you don't have one, lay parchment paper over the top of the pot and then top with your lid.
- Reduce the braising liquid down to a gravy and serve over rice. You can add a corn starch slurry (water and corn starch mixed in a bowl) for a thicker gravy
Neck Bones Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where can I buy neck bones?
You won't find neck bones readily available unless you live in or near the hood or more ethnic areas. They are hood underground specialties and fly under the radar of most mainstream channels. Here in Texas we have a large Hispanic chain Fiesta that sales them and on occasion, some HEB Stores (super grocery chain in Texas) will have them on hand. You can also ask your local butcher to reserve some for you.
Is there a substitute for neck bones?
Pork shanks would likely be the best alternative among readily available options.
What is the flavor profile of this recipe?
I intentionally wanted a briny dish relying heavily on vinegar and the brine from pickled vegetables like peppers, okra, and cactus. The briny broth cuts through the rich tender sauce rendered by braised neck bones and brings balance to the dish. The smoky chipotle peppers and their sauce add depth and complexity.
Should I Use Smoked neck bones?
Smoked neck bones have already been cooked, which isn't the end of the world but fresh is better primarily from a texture standpoint.
For other recipes featuring humble meats made off da charts delicious try these:
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- 1 lbs Pork Neck bones
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup Cider vinegar
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup water
- 1 Yellow Onion chopped
- 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 4 garlic cloves diced
- ½ cup pickled vegetables jalapeño peppers, okra or cactus plus brine
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp black pepper
- ½ tsp Red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 7 oz chipotle peppers plus sauce
- Clean the neck bones by rinsing them with water
- Season the neck bones with salt and pepper.
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Heat a dutch oven pot on medium heat. Add oil once pan is hot then brown the neck bones on all sides. Remove neck bones and set aside.
- Add onions, garlic, and carrots and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add half the spices (salt, pepper, paprika)
- Add stock, water, bay leaves, red pepper flakes, pickled vegetables (plus a ¼ cup of the brine), the chipotle peppers with sauce. Mix well. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer and cover. Place in the oven and cook for 1 ½ hours.
- I like my neck bones briny, so I added brine from the pickled vegetables
- For the pickled vegetables, I used a combination of pickled okra, pickled jalapeños, and pickled cactus since I had them all on hand. Pickling is easy, but all these are available in most mainstream grocery stores. I found all three in the pickle aisle at my local store. Choose just one or all three it’s up to you.
- Use your judgment on the chipotles. I only used half the can, but included all of the sauce. Don’t worry this dish is not spicy despite the chipotle peppers. The dish is balanced in flavor and the chipotle adds more smokiness than fire.
- Make sure you have a heavy lid. If not place a sheet of parchment paper over the pot before adding the lid.
- The rendered sauce makes a nice gravy. Make a slurry of starch (water + corn starch mixed in a bowl). Remove the neck bones then add the slurry to the pot and cook down into a thick gravy to serve with rice.