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Oct 4, 2006 07:11 PM

What on Earth is a Fresh Ham Hock?

Yes, I've checked earlier posts on the Board, but aside from a seeming consensus that the hock is the piece above the pig's foot, but below the shank, and that fresh means "not smoked", confusion still reigns. (In my mind at least.)

Think about it: "fresh" seems to mean "not frozen" and "not smoked." Shouldn't that mean "not cured", too? But what does "ham" mean? Isn't ham cured and sometimes smoked, too? In which case it isn't "fresh". So does "ham" simply mean "pork"? If so, why does the recipe say "ham hock"?

The reason I'm asking is I'm planning a cassoulet. I've made it with both fresh pork foot and smoked ham hock. I didn't care for the smoked ham hock result, so I can see why smoked is out. But what is a "fresh ham hock"?

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  1. My guess would be it's the hock. Nothing done to it. I've seen the "Ham" cut that has nothing done to it sold as an uncured "Ham"


    1. I agree with the above poster that it is just the hock. I think by attaching the word "ham" in front of hock, shoppers can identify the product easier. "Fresh ham hock" does sound better than "fresh hock"

      1 Reply
      1. re: PBSF

        And certainly better than a chunk of pig leg.

      2. Unless they say cured or smoked, they mean fresh as in nothing done to it. Look in a butchers case and you will see fresh ham hocks.

        Ham just refers to the pork cut that is the part of the pig's leg. Ham itself can be fresh or cured in some way.

        1. Thank you, everyone! At least I'll be able to get that chunk of fresh pork leg without worrying about it. Heck, maybe I'll get 2 of them and try to make a crispy pata :)