Every year we buy a local pastured Berkshire pig for the freezer. Usually we have the hocks smoked. This year, by accident, the hocks were not smoked. Any ideas on the best way to use them? Thanks
It never even occured to me they could be un-smoked :-) But I did a little looking and people seem to braise them low and slow as you would any other tough cut. I saw them included in Hoppin' John and beans and stews - so maybe give them a good slow braise in a bunch of aromatics, and then add them to ... LENTILS!! Then enter your recipe and win fame and fortune!
We too have a pig in the freezer. My suggestion would be a delicious long simmered pork stock, for use in something else, like a soup with Asian flavors. You could freeze the stock until inspiration strikes.
My husband usually puts a ham hock in his traditional New Year's Day choucroute garni, simmering it in the saurkraut low and slow until it's falling-apart tender. I've also had them braised, the meat shredded off and rolled back into the skin, then the roll sliced, breaded, and fried to make a torchon, but that may be a bit fussier than you want to deal with :)
For years I have cooked fresh hocks osso bocco style. I have received more compliments at dinner parties as the best veal anyone has ever had. Then I tell them it is pork and they are shocked.
thirschfeld just posted this: http://www.food52.com/recipes...
The osso bucco style sounds delicious. I agree with low and slow--I'd probably braise in the oven at 250 with Chinese master stock until tender.
Choucroute garni is excellent--it's like short ribs and sauerkraut, but I like it better with unsmoked hocks. I've also done a New England boiled dinner with them, braising in a little water that is allowed to boil off, which renders enough fat to brown the hocks very slightly, then adding enough water to cover, some salt and pepper, maybe a bay leaf or some thyme or sage, or some lemon grass and a goodly knob of ginger; the pot gets covered and put into a 300-325 degree F oven for a couple of hours, until the meat is tender but not falling apart--the skin should be intact, just a wee bit shrunken. Vegetables are added in this order: 2" chunks of carrot; quartered small red potatoes; a small cabbage, quartered, pressed with the inside down into the liquid; fresh green or wax beans strewn over the top. Rutabagas and/or turnips can be added if desired. Cover the pot and boil gently over medium heat for 15 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through but not overcooked. It's okay if the carrots, cabbage and green beans are slightly undercooked. Taste the broth and adjust seasoning if necessary. Ladle the pot liquor through a fine-mesh sieve into coffee mugs, place on a serving plate and surround with chunks of pork and the vegetables, with sturdy brown bread or crumbly corn bread on the side along with good butter and coarse salt.
I usually do a cassoulet for New Year's dinner, but I just decided to do thirschfeld's recipe. Thanks for the heads-up, hardlikearmour.