The Best of the Pork Hocks

Pork hocks are special cuts that have a good amount of meat, generous amounts of gelatin, great amounts of fat, and loads of flavour. They're not as well-known as they should be, simply because most people haven't had the privilege of eating them before!

The hocks are one cut that lend themselves well to smoking. It's not as if they needed any help in the flavour department, but smoking takes them to the next level. Therefore, most abattoirs offer this service, so that you can receive smoked hocks to store in your freezer.

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How to Cook PORK HOCKS... three Options

  1. IN THE OVEN: Roast the hocks at 300F or 325F for about 45 - 60 minutes. (Add 1/2 inch of water to the pan first.) They're done when they're browned, starting to turn crispy on the edges, and very fragrant.

At this point, one of the best things you can do with them is put them in a soup pot (with all the juices from the roasting pan), add 1/2 - 1tsp salt, cover them with water by an inch, and simmer them to make a delectable broth. If this broth is allowed to chill, it will become very thick - a sure sign of the gelatin and other nourishing ingredients that have transferred into the broth.

If you'd like to serve this meal right away, add chunks of your favourite soup veggies and simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until everything is tender.

For example, try one of these combos:

  • potatoes, carrots, chard, onion

  • sweet potato, kale, garlic

  • butternut squash, leeks, spinach {with the spinach added at the last minute)

Remove the hocks from the pot, dice the meat, and add it back to the pot before serving the meal.

Add some of the fat to back to the pot too! When we understand how nourishing this type of fat really is, and the nutrients it contains that are critical to our health (in particular, when the animals are raised on pasture / in sunshine / with clean feed), we'll be scrambling to use every possible scrap of it.

2. IN THE SLOW COOKER

If you wish, the hocks can be roasted first, as above. Roasting deepens the flavour, but is not necessary.

The hocks pair very well with beans (particularly with white beans - or, maybe that's just our tradition).

Soak some dry beans while the hocks are roasting. Use about 1 cup dry beans per package of hocks.

Drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker, along with the hocks and pan juices. Add fresh water to cover everything by at least an inch, and let it all simmer for a few hours. (The exact timing depends on your machine.) Season to taste after it's finished cooking.

This combo of pork and beans is delectable. I bet you didn't know that beans could taste so good!

Serve with crusty bread and some vegetables or a salad for a memorable meal.

3. IN THE PRESSURE COOKER / INSTAPOT

I do not have experience with a stove-top pressure cooker, but can highly recommend the electric pressure cooker. Instant Pot is the brand I have... there are others too. They are easy to use, and very safe - and they can revolutionize meals that usually require a long cooking time.

The advantage of the pressure cooker is that there is far less time involved. After the ingredients are brought up to pressure, it generally takes only 20 - 30 minutes of cooking time - and then you end up with tender, succulent meat and creamy beans. Season them to taste after they're cooked, and serve as above.

Take the Hocks a Step Further: Baked Beans

For "baked beans"... take your leftover cooked beans and shredded pork, and add a few simple ingredients like molasses, tomatoes and your favourite herbs. Bake in the oven for an hour or two, and you'll have a rich and satisfying meal. I realize this is not a proper recipe for baked beans - it’s on the list for a future blog post! This is just to give you another (very delicious) idea of what to do with your cooked pork hocks.

Have you cooked hocks before? What's your favourite way to cook them? Leave a comment below!