Friday, November 9, 2012

Ham Hocks

Ham hocks are a humble dish. In Spanish, one would call them cucina sin adorno, or unadorned cooking.  If you have never seen or eaten them, they are shaped like miniature hams, wider at the top than at the bottom. The ones I got had been smoked, and like hams, still  had the skin attached. Inside they have a little meat and many tendons. Anatomically, they are akin to the pig's ankles. They are a staple in southern cooking, and also are popular in German cooking.
Bob and I had this for dinner Wednesday night. I went to yoga, and around 4:00 I put the ham hocks into the slow cooker, with instructions to Bob to take them out and boil them for 15 to 20 minutes if he got home before I did. He got home before I did even though I hustled into my clothes after yoga and out to the street, where there were no buses, not in the bus turn around up the street, and not trundling up Connecticut Avenue. I walked home which took about 20 minutes, and no buses passed me at all. We were supposed to have a second storm Wednesday night, but all that fell on me was a few sprinkles.
The recipe says to cook the vegetables for fifteen minutes. My advice is to cook the carrots and potatoes for fifteen minutes and the cabbage for five to seven minutes. Our cabbage was limp and overcooked. This is certainly an easy dish. Anyone can boil their dinner.
I didn't experiment with ways to add more flavor. Boiling is easy, but it does not result in a flavorful dish. One might try boiling everything in chicken broth rather than water, or adding soup cubes to the boiling water. Bay leaves might improve the situation. Use your ingenuity.

Ham Hocks

4 ham hocks
2 teaspoons salt
3 carrots quartered
3 onions sliced
3 potatoes sliced
1/4 large head cabbage, cut into four wedges

1. Place the hocks in a Dutch oven or casserole. Cover with water and add the salt. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, one and one-half to two hours or until tender.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, covered, fifteen minutes longer, or until vegetables are tender. Makes four servings.

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