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Nov 23, 2004 02:57 PM

subbing pig's feet for ham hocks?

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I'm making the choucroute bread pudding in the recent food and wine for my turkey day stuffing, and am having trouble tracking down an unsmoked ham hock in the Boston area. The ham hock is used to make a ham broth that moistens the bread pudding, and the meat is shredded and added to the pudding; the recipe also calls for slab bacon and andouille, both of which I've been able to find.

Any thoughts on using fresh pig's feet instead of ham hocks, or other possible substitutes? I assume the hock adds a gelatinous goodness to the mix that I might get with the feet instead, and I can just add some ham to the mix in order to get the flavor-- but Fergus Henderson doesn't discuss the interchange, and I am coming up empty so far.

Thanks . . .

here's the link looking for a butcher on the Boston board:

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  1. I'm surprised that you can't get them on request. Nearly any Giant, Safeway, etc, will reserve them for you with a phone call.

    Either way, another big thing that the hocks add is salt, aside from the flavor. Not sure if the pig's feet has enough or not - I've never used them.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Dennis S

      Yeah, I requested, two weeks ago-- and was told I couldn't get them until December. Phooey.

      1. re: emdb

        mystery. Can you try another place?

        I've only ever used them for Red Beans n' Rice, but I also always make that for New Years Day (a few days in advance so the flavors really meld!).

        Still, the hocks are the part of the animal just above the feet! If they have feet, where did the hocks go?

    2. If you already have the flavor of cured and smoked pork from the bacon and sausage, I suspect that an unsmoked ham hock will largely be contributing gelatin and bits of meat/skin. Substituting pigs feet sounds like a fine idea to me, though it'll take a little more effort to pick the meat out of all those little bones. Have fun!


      1. Chinese butchers have fresh hocks (assuming that's what unsmoked ham hock means). It's the next cut up from the pig's foot, so if you get a long one, you're almost there. (g) Substituting ham which is smoked is not the same flavor.

        1. Well, I wasn't able to track down fresh ham hocks anywhere-- even the latino and chinese places I could get to answer the phone only had smoked ones. So I made my ham broth with two smallish pigs feet and some unsmoked, cured ham-- it came out tasting plenty ham-my, and when I went to scrape the fat off the top this morning, it had gelled quite nicely.

          1. Glad it worked out for you. In Boston you should be able to find a good Italian butcher next time. I can find all sorts of out of the way stuff at our Italian market area.

            1 Reply
            1. re: saucyknave

              Yeah, I called the italian markets in the North End, in Revere, and in my hometown (Everett) to see if they had "fresh" hocks, rather than smoked ones, and came up empty. Yesterday, at a butcher I will leave unnamed to protect the not-so-innocent, I was told that "the hispanics only like the smoked hocks, the blacks don't buy the fresh ones often enough, and you're the first white woman in the 20 years I've been a butcher to ever ask for hocks of any kind." It's all very strange-- it's the first time I haven't been able to find something "odd" in my search to exhaust myself cooking on major holidays. : )