Ham hock is a cut of meat which is created from the joint or ankle of a pig. This cut of meat is mainly utilized for the purpose of seasoning. It is not considered as a typical pork dish, but still it is revered for its flavors and is added to several meat and vegetable based dishes.
Features of Ham Hock
It is also known as hough and is created from the metatarsals or the knuckles of the foot. The sliced hough is usually semi –thick and it is packed in groups of two or three. The ham hocks can be purchased fresh or raw, or cured and smoked. The cured version of this meat cut has long shelf life in comparison to the uncured ones. The cured houghs can be preserved for long time.
The hough can be bought from a butcher shop or it can be purchased from meat section of a supermarket. This meat cut costs less in comparison to other pork products like ham or bacons because it is solely used for seasoning various vegetable dishes.
The houghs are fit only for one time usage because it does not contain enough flavors to be utilized for second time.
Culinary Usage of Ham Hock
This meat cut is usually used for adding flavor to cooked vegetables. In many countries across the world, this meat cut is generally treated as a cheap source of seasoning for greens like collards, mustard greens, turnips and kale. The greens are slow cooked and tossed with these meat cuts for an added flavor. It is usually chosen for flavoring the greens because it contains just the right amount of salt, to provide appetizing taste to the greens, without adding any extra spice or salt. Some people serve it with the greens and some others remove the meat before serving.
Ham hocks are the vital additions in many soul food preparations and cuisines prevalent in southern parts of United States.
Ham Hock Recipe Variants
- Eisbein – It is a pickled hough , which is served with mashed or boiled potatoes and sauerkraut in Germany. This dish is also popular in Poland and they call it golonka. The Germans cook it for long time and use it in various dishes.
- Pease Pudding – It is a also known as pease porridge or pease pottage and it is primarily a boiled vegetable preparation. It mainly consists of a Carlin peas or yellow peas , salt, water and spices. These ingredients are cooked with ham hock. Its texture resembles hummus but has mild taste. This dish is popular in North Eastern Areas of United Kingdom. It is also served as a part of Jiggs dinner observed in Labrador and Newfoundland. A variation of this dish is observed in China and it is known as Wandouhuang. Slightly refined version of this dish is called Empress Dowager Cixi.
- Schweinshaxe – It is a popular Bavarian dish consisting of roasted hough. This dish is popular in Austria as Stelze. In Austria and Bavaria the ham hocks are pre-boiled and marinated in garlic brine along with caraway seeds and roasted until their skin turns crunchy. The cooked meat is usually teamed with horseradish, pickled chilies and mustard.
- Fläsklägg med rotmos –The ham hock is mashed with Swedish turnips to prepare this dish. The meat is salt cured and cooked for about an hour or two with carrot, onion and allspice. Vegetables like potatoes, rutabaga and carrots are added to the dish and cooked until they turn soft. The dish is served with mustards.