Monday, 20 June 2011

Pork Hocks

Our local New World started selling pork hocks a month or two ago.  They are similar to lamb shanks in that they are basically a bit of meat with plenty of connective tissue running through it wrapped around a bone.  They also come with the skin on which is a bonus given the possibilities of crackling.

Our New World sells them for $3.07 each which makes them a very cheap meal.  As they are a bit larger than a lamb shank, Camille and I tend to share one between us so the meal cost is minimal.  At the moment they aren't popular but if people start to like them, I'm betting they will go the way of lamb shanks which started out a few years ago being one of the cheapest cuts but now are around $10.00 each.

How to cook them?   Slowly of course.  However, they have that skin which makes a beautiful crackling if treated right.  They don't come scored though so you'll need to use a very sharp knife or follow Al Brown's advice and use a stanley knife and score the skin yourself.  The skin is very loose though so it can be quite difficult to score. I tend to buy the hocks in bulk and freeze them.  Scoring them when they are partially thawed is way easier and safer.  Yes, I have scored myself once or twice when doing an unfrozen hock, fortunately not badly but I'm now very aware of that loose skin!

Once scored, rub a bit of olive oil over the hock and then salt the skin ensuring it is rubbed  well into the scoring.  Be generous!  Don't skimp on the salt!  Grind a bit of pepper over it as well.  Heat your oven up to 220 degrees or so.  Place the hock into a roasting pan and put it into the oven for 20 minutes or so.  You want the skin to start to blister.  Once this starts to happen, reduce the heat to around 150 and cook until the meat is very tender and pulling away from the bone.  This will take a couple of hours.   Some people like to cover the hock at this point to ensure they stay moist.  I prefer to provide extra moisture.

Roast pork hock with onion and pear with a red wine finish

This is for one or two pork hocks.

Prepare hocks as above and cook until the skin begins to blister.

Peel and slice 2 onions and 3 pears thinly. This will be enough for one or two hocks. Remove the hock(s) from the oven and leave the oven to cool to 150 degrees.  Remove the hocks from the roasting pan and layer the onion and pear slices in it.  Layer them so they cover about the same amount of space the hock(s) will take up.  You are making a bed for the hocks to lie in.

Drizzle a little oil over the bedding and sprinkle a little salt and pepper over it.  Place the hocks on top of the onion and pear bedding.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the hocks and return them to the oven.

Cook them until the meat is tender and pulling away from the bone. Remove them from the oven. At this point the skin may not be fully crackled. Boost the oven heat and remove the skin from the hocks and put it on a baking tray and return it to the oven. Remove the hocks from the roasting pan and cover them with foil to keep their heat in.

Place the roasting pan on an element and bring up to heat until the pear/onion/fat begins to bubble. Pour in about half a cup of a reasonable red wine and stir in ensuring you mash down at least some of the caramelised onion and pear so it blends into the wine. Add more wine as you see fit and reduce until it is slightly thickened. The onion and pear won't fully break down but this doesn't matter. In fact, I think I prefer it.

At this point you can either remove the meat from the hocks or serve them whole. If whole, spoon some of the pear/onion/wine finish over them and then place the crackling over the top. Serve the rest of the finish on the side.


Shunda barunda said...

My wife has been experimenting with a slow cooker, we just got a bigger one through flybys points and it works a treat.

She did some lamb shanks a week or so ago, and I would say it was one of the best meals we have ever had.

We have been experimenting with all sorts, and so far every single time has been a success.

It takes all day to cook, but it is certainly well worth it.

Thrash Cardiom said...

We have a slow cooker too but as it is a 6 litre one and there are only two of us in the house now, it doesn't get a lot of use. In the past I have found it excellent for soups (amongst other dishes) so I should probably start using it for that.

I wonder what a curry would be like done in a slow cooker. Do all the frying of spices etc. in another dish and transfer for a long, slow cook. Could be good with a really crappy cut of beef!

Shunda barunda said...

I reckon you would be right on the mark, slow cookers turn crappy meat into fine dining!!

Necole said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Thrash Cardiom said...

Necole: If you can convince me you aren't a shill for the company whose link you posted, I'll put your comment back up.