Monday, April 06, 2009

Slow Roasted Ham Hock


I am currently enamoured of, amongst other things, ham hocks. Look at that photo and it's not hard to see why. They are lovely juicy things, full of flavour and very cheap. They give abundantly to the home cook without a lot of effort, requiring generally only that you give them time to cook.
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Simmered with herbs and a few vegetables they provide moist meat and a pot of stock for soups or risotto and this is the way I normally cook one. But I read somewhere of Mario Batali, the New York chef and writer, serving up slow roasted hock and I have had a hankering for that ever since. In my mind's eye it was crispy and sticky and juicy - surely a simple enough thing to produce?

So this Saturday I bought not one but two hocks from Silfield Farm shop, the idea being to have one with garlic potatoes and a poached egg for a fairly decadent Sunday night supper and then have the other cold in lunchboxes for a couple of days with some crispy salad. But then I bottled it.
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I'd made a fairly ordinary stir fry with mussels and clams Saturday night that should have been fabulous and suddenly I was worried that I was going off half cocked again and would end up having another ordinary dinner and daily reminders of the disapppointment till the second one was finished. The second hock went into the freezer.
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Shouldn't have worried - it worked brilliantly. The thyme and onions gradually melted into an unctuous mess in the base of the pan, the cider gave the meat a nice stickiness without being particularly sweet and the final blast of heat made the skin golden and crisp.
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Utterly lovely.

Slow Roasted Ham Hock
1 unsmoked ham hock, about 1kg in weight
3 or 4 onions, peeled and thickly sliced
4 sprigs thyme, leaves shredded off the stalks
1 tbspn olive oil
100ml dry cider
Salt and pepper

Wash the hock. Heat the oven to Gas 2. Put the olive oil into the base of a roasting pan then cover with the sliced onions and thyme leaves. Add some salt and pepper and mix it all together with your hands. You should have a layer of onions about half an inch thick. Put the hock on top and season lightly. Spoon over a little cider then loosely cover the pan with foil.

Put the pan into the oven and cook for about two and a half hours, basting with the cider every half an hour.

Remove the foil and turn the heat up to Gas 7 and cook for another 20-30 minutes till the skin is all golden and crisp.

Rest for 20 minutes then slice and eat with a pile of onions.

Completely amazing. And just enough left for lunch Monday.
Not to mention one that's now in the freezer in need of a plan... Ideas?

20 comments:

Kerry Evert said...

This is one of the yummiest recipes ever!!! I've made it twice and everyone who's eaten it has been a HUGE success each time!!

bron said...

Kerry so glad you love it! I have been hankering for ham hock myself lately, might need one next week.

Kerry Evert said...

I just read my post and it looks like I'm saying 2 things at once!!! Anyway, it's been a huge success every time I've made it. Making it again for dinner tonight, YUM!

bron said...

I'm delighted you make this - makes the whole blog thing worthwhile!

bron said...

Kerry your pleasure with this prompted me to make it again last week - totally decadent as sandwiches for Friday night special. Loved it - so thank you too!

Jim Algar said...
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Anonymous said...

Where do you find unsmoked ham hocks? I've only been able to find the smoked variety. By unsmoked, do you mean raw and uncooked, or cured but not smoked? thanks!

bron said...

I usually buy unsmoked ham hocks at Sillfield shop at Borough, occasionally at Ginger Pig but I did make this the other day with a raw unsmoked pork hock from Flock & Herd, Charlie Shaw's new butchers shop on Bellenden Road in Peckham. It was gorgeous using exactly the same process. Used the leftovers to make a kind of pasty/empanada hybrid with a paprika dough stuffed with the last of the pork and the onions and it was very tasty.

If you're not in London, talk to your local butcher, tell them what you want to do and they may well be able to help.

Anonymous said...

Hi I was wondering what is Gas 2 & 7? Could you please let me know
Thanks

bron said...

Gas 2 or 7 are just temperature marks on a gas oven - they translate to 300F/150C and 425F/220C, ie very low for the slow cooking and quite hot to crisp the skin at the end.

Hope you like this recipe, I made it again recently and used the little bit of meat and onions left over to make some pasties - really good thing to do.

carla baker said...
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carla baker said...

Im a complete newbie cook and was given a ham hock by mistake at the butchers but i cooked it your way this evening.It was fabulous! thank you so much for this

bron said...

Carla I'm really pleased it worked for you - it's great this time of year. Hope it encourages you to cook some more new things...

Anonymous said...

Im trying this tomorow wish me luck

bron said...

Good luck! Hope you love it - it's a recurring favourite of mine. Let m e know...

neil phillips said...

Just came across this via Google search for best way to cook gammon hocks and am about to make this right now have to say a little excited

bron said...

Neil I really hope your excitement was richly rewarded!

Ali Davis said...

I also found this in Google and it is a fabulous recipe. Absolutely the most delicious ham hock! Wasn't entirely sure if the skin was supposed to me removed so that the fat crisped up, as my skin was a bit too rubbery to eat nor did it crisp up much?

bron said...

Ali what I do at the end is to turn the heat up very high for the last 20 minutes or so and that tends to make the skin crisp but the skin does need to be scored a bit with a sharp knife before you start to m make it work. I get the butcher to do that bit! Their knives are so much sharper than mine.

Trevor Panther said...

A much nicer result this way than boiling it for an hour beforehand. A good result.
I also added some chunks of celeriac and sweet potatoes underneath for the last hour