HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Do you create unique foods? Share your adventure

Uses for ham hocks (that don't use beans)

adamclyde Jan 21, 2009 01:07 PM

I've got two wonderful smoky ham hocks in my freezer waiting for a use. In the past, I'd use them in some sort of soup, which always had beans somewhere in the recipe. The problem is one of my daughters now has a pretty significant allergic reaction to all kinds of beans. And I can't think of anything to use the ham hocks for that don't require beans.

Any ideas?

  1. mamaciita Jan 21, 2009 01:36 PM

    Consider your ham hock part of a chicken carcass and boil for stock.

    2 Replies
    1. re: mamaciita
      adamclyde Jan 21, 2009 02:46 PM

      wouldn't that add a huge amount of salt? My stocks usually don't have any salt at all...

      1. re: adamclyde
        mamaciita Jan 22, 2009 01:01 PM

        Probably not more than a rotisserie chicken carcass.

        At any rate, I usually add salt in some form when I make soup or sauces, so the saltiness of the original usually isn't an issue.

    2. janetms383 Jan 21, 2009 01:36 PM

      you can stew them with cabbage or sauerkrat and in the last hour of cooking throw in some cubed potatoes or rice

      1. billieboy Jan 21, 2009 03:23 PM

        French-Canadian pea soup?

        1. greygarious Jan 21, 2009 03:57 PM

          Recipes from the American South make frequent use of ham hocks, including flavoring the braising liquid for greens - equally good for collards, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, et. al. Onion and some form of hot pepper are common to these recipes.

          4 Replies
          1. re: greygarious
            Clarkafella Jan 21, 2009 04:07 PM

            Amen to that! I use ham hocks (or some other pig parts) for my greens, and then use the leftover liquid for my beans!

            1. re: Clarkafella
              adamclyde Jan 21, 2009 04:47 PM

              hmm. that's a good idea. And it reminds me a bit of that New Zealand/Maori dish, Pork Bones and Puha, which is, essentially puha (similar to watercress) boiled up with potatoes and ham bones. Surprisingly tasty...

              1. re: adamclyde
                Clarkafella Jan 21, 2009 06:47 PM

                Can't be as tasty as collards- crumble up some cornbread in a bowl, cover it up with some well cooked collards with lots of juice, and life doesn't really get any better...

                1. re: Clarkafella
                  crt Jun 29, 2009 07:34 AM

                  Oh yeah. Clarkafella. I agree. A friend of ours invited us over to his house for a good ol southern soul food dinner last night. Great ribs, BBQ beans, potato salad, corn bread muffins...and some 'killer' collard greens! These greens had both the meat from the ham hocks and some sliced sausage. They were so tender with just the right amount of spiciness. I'm so lucky there was enough left over and he made me my lunch for today. Two huge ribs and some of the collard greens. Can't wait!

          2. d
            dkenworthy Jan 22, 2009 06:23 AM

            Choucroute garni! But your daughters may not be willing to eat sauerkraut, either. But it is delicious.

            1. porker Jan 22, 2009 03:33 PM

              I think there was a very similar post a short while ago. Reading through it, I was shown schweinshaxe; German boiled then grilled pork hock,


              It looked so great that I copied it into my personal recipe files and bookmarked to try soon.
              You apparently have smoked hocks rather than fresh, but it shouldn't be a problem with the boiling first.

              7 Replies
              1. re: porker
                bigfellow Jan 22, 2009 03:36 PM

                I braise ham hocks, then serve them with a little sauer kraut and boiled potatos. The juice from the braising makes a great soup stock. (it sometimes has to be watered down a bit if it is a might salty) Good luck!!!

                1. re: bigfellow
                  Will Owen Jan 22, 2009 03:49 PM

                  You can also use that braising liquid again to braise plain cabbage in, or to cook green beans Southern-style. Out here in the Left Coast, most of the bacon is a little light in the smoke department, so the more assertive flavor from ham hocks can offer a welcome boost. And if you want to go easy on the fat, I got a hot tip from one of Paula Wolfert's books: the flavor from cured meats is water-soluble! This means you can simmer your bacon or ham hocks, chill the liquid, lift off the fat and then use the now fat-free liquid to cook your veges in.

                  1. re: Will Owen
                    bigfellow Jan 22, 2009 03:52 PM

                    I use the the liquid at work all the time. When it cools in the walkin, it turns to gelitine. I just scrape the excessfat off the top.

                2. re: porker
                  grandgourmand Feb 23, 2009 11:54 AM

                  Did you try this recipe? I actually stumble across the same one today as I was looking for schweinshaxe. I ate that stuff a couple times in Munich, and it's terrific.

                  1. re: grandgourmand
                    porker Mar 2, 2009 06:43 AM

                    I haven't tried the recipe yet, but it keeps banging around the back of my head, occasionally giving me tingly feelings...
                    I get dinosaur-sized 'pigs knuckle' in a tavern or polish resto every once in a while. The schweinshaxe looks fantastic as well. Probably post a few pictures when I do try the recipe.

                    1. re: porker
                      grandgourmand Mar 2, 2009 07:18 AM

                      I tried it last night, actually. It was really good, and the skin was super crispy. I didn' t have enough salt on it though, but overall a pretty easy recipe. Toughest part is finding the right cut.
                      Pork hocks are definitely taking on a greater role in my recession menu.

                      1. re: grandgourmand
                        porker Mar 2, 2009 06:17 PM

                        I've been eating hocks and feet in one way or another since I was a kid. Ate them in brown gravy, pickled (my dad used to bring them from Ontario where he'd purchase them pickled 'in bulk' from A&P - alas they no longer carry them. Today, I pick them up in the states - not as good as the A&P ones though - or make my own), boiled with vegetables (sometimes with pig tail here), cooked in corn soup, etc etc.
                        They're still pretty cheap, but prices, like with most other 'undesirables', have been rising.

                        Speak to a neighborhood butcher (instead of a grocery chain guy) - show him what you want, most likely they'll come through. If not try another until you find a really fun butcher, especially one who does his own charcuterie - lotsa side benefits here.

                        There's an old-timer in Montreal. I told him exactly that, so he goes into the cooler, pulls out a whole leg (no foot), and says "this part right?"
                        He grabs his thin blade and slices clean through the lower joint, in one swipe. Impressive (I woulda been slicing and dicing, hacking and chopping, looking for the joint).
                        "give me two"
                        So he cuts another leg. I grilled those babies.

                3. m
                  Mellicita Jan 22, 2009 05:47 PM

                  I would use it in a big minestrone soup filled with veggies (in place of the traditional pancetta to begin with.) Just dont add salt until you have tasted it near the end. I'm sure you could come up with other creative soups using ham stock as a base.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mellicita
                    adamclyde Jan 23, 2009 04:02 AM

                    yeah, I think I'll do that, since I've been wanting to do a big minestrone for a while... thanks for the suggestion.

                  2. WCchopper Jan 22, 2009 05:51 PM

                    I was just wondering today if smoked ham hock or bacon would be good with pumpkin for soup. Not sure how that would work logistically but if anyone has done this, please pipe up.

                    1. Quine Jan 22, 2009 05:59 PM

                      lentil soup? And i agree with many who have said; with greens or sauerkraut.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Quine
                        adamclyde Jan 23, 2009 04:02 AM

                        she's got a bad allergic reaction to lentils too, unfortunately.

                      2. pitu Feb 23, 2009 02:27 PM

                        collards, which happen to be rather beautiful in the market right now
                        a little sliced onions, some water and black pepper and a little vinegar
                        apply heat, bon appetit

                        and you do *not* need to cook those greens to death

                        I'd also make broth, with some chicken feet and a hock. It's smoked, not salted.
                        (okay, I don't have any idea how salty your hock is. The ones I get from the organic people are not so salty)
                        Then I'd make pho with the broth...

                        1. grandgourmand Feb 26, 2009 01:48 PM

                          Another use is to use the hocks as a base for a broth. Remove the hocks when meat is falling off bone and have given their flavour to broth. Use broth to braise cabbage, potatoes, turnips, whatever floats your boat. Serve as a kind of a pot-au-feu, with the veggies, flaked ham and broth.

                          1. todao Mar 2, 2009 08:19 PM

                            The initial post is pretty old (012109) but I'll add this idea just in case anyone might still be interested.
                            Ham Hock Risotto is a hearty dish, especially for this time of year.

                            1. BobB Mar 3, 2009 10:08 AM

                              Slow cook, shred the meat, and toss with pasta, a bit of olive oil and a bit of pasta water, black pepper and parmesan (and peas, if your daughter is not allergic to them too).

                              1. porker Mar 3, 2009 01:38 PM

                                Boil 5-10 minutes, throw out the water. Replace with fresh water/white vinegar (perhaps 70/40), just enough to cover, bring to boil. Add salt, pepper, to taste, coupla bay leaves coupla pinch os fugar, peel from an orange, chopped parsely. Lower to simmer 2-3 hours (topping up with water and a splash of vinegar as needed).
                                Remove hocks, let cool to handle.
                                Strain liquid.
                                Remove skin, rough chop. Remove meat, rough chop. Remove soft tendon, rough chop. Place all in smallish tupperware containers, cover with cooking liquid.
                                Let cool uncovered.
                                Cover and into fridge overnight.
                                Gelatina (kinda like head cheese or aspic) to be sliced and enjoyed with crusty bread!

                                1. c
                                  chineselouise Jun 29, 2009 04:05 AM

                                  I've had it flaked into macaroni cheese before. Yum!

                                  Show Hidden Posts