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

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?

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

    2 Replies
    1. re: mamaciita

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

      1. re: adamclyde

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

      1. French-Canadian pea soup?

        1. 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

            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

              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

                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

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

            1. 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

                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

                  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

                    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

                  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

                    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

                      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

                        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. 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

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

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Quine

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

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

                                  1. This is the ideal cut for making Swabian Maultaschen (similar to ravioli). You simmer the hocks in water (I usually add a carrot, some onion, peppercorns, and a little parsley). Save the water (now a broth) for serving the Maultaschen. Make a pound of pasta, make a filling with the chopped (or ground) meat from the hocks, plus bread crumbs, chopped spinach, parsley, green onion, marjoram, nutmeg, and an egg (plus black pepper to taste). Each 1/4 lb. of pasta will make 8 rectangular Maultaschen, so this will make 32 in all. Gently boil the Maultaschen in plenty of salted water, and serve each guest 2 in a soup bowl with the hock broth and some rings of green onion or chopped chives as a garnish. (Strain out the onion and parsley, but you might want to serve the carrot with the broth and Maultaschen). Maultaschen can also be served without the broth but covered in onions browned in butter. Leftover Maultaschen are often cut up, fried in butter, and then cooked with eggs beaten for scrambling. They also freeze well.