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Ham bone, ham bone, have you heard?

I was talking to my hairdresser the other day, and she was saying why do you have to buy a whole bone-in ham when all you really want is split pea soup. But I've never seen it offered as a stand alone item; don't know where all the bones from boneless ham go but it's not to the butcher shop or grocery stores. Why can't they just cryovac them with a little meat still attached,and offer them to the general public, I'd be making split pea soup a few times a month, instead of waiting so long in between and then freezing all the leftover meat that the two of us could never finish.

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  1. I've walked into specialty ham shops that sell both whole hams and ham sandwiches, etc., and asked for bones. Sometimes they've given me a couple gratis, and sometimes they've charged me a little bit for them.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Jim Washburn

      I wonder if there are any ham stores here on Long Island? Seem like there must be.

      I was thinking, I have a friend who works at Hormel, I'll have to talk to him next week sometime and see if they do anything like that. They do pork osso buco, so who knows?

      1. re: coll

        Totally ask your friend, I work at an Ice cream Factory, we always get kickbacks, but we work with the stuff all day and we really don't want it, so there is a VERY good chance he'll pass his freebies along.

        1. re: Bryn

          I have a few osso buco from him in the freezer right now, but it has some kind of red sauce and very salty otherwise I'd consider using them for the soup!

    2. Smoked ham hocks. All the flavor and just enough meat.

      6 Replies
        1. re: chowser

          Unfortunately they're too smoky for me, although I think I've seen then unsmoked? But how much marrow is in there, that's what I'm looking for. I'm looking for thick soup as opposed to just flavor.

          1. re: coll

            Great marrow, rich soup. I love Best Recipe's split pea soup recipe. It starts out with making a rich stock w/ ham hocks and then you use that to make the split pea soup. Finish w/ a dollop of balsamic vinegar. It adds a nice flavor.

            1. re: chowser

              OK maybe I'll try them again. I think I only used them once, but they were overwhelmingly smoky as opposed to a regular ham. Maybe it was just those particular ones. I finish with a dollop of Tabasco, that adds a nice kick of flavor too!

              1. re: coll

                The ham bone buried deep inside the ham is not going to pickup as much smoke flavor as the hock, especially if you use the meat and skin of the hock as well as the bone. The skin and sinews in the hock are a good source of collagen (gelatin), better than the bone itself.

                Using a mix of smoked and fresh hocks would be one way of tempering the smokiness.

                It is also likely that hocks are smoked longer than regular wet-cured hams, since they are intended for seasoning. Many hams are aimed at a market that wants mild flavor. The exception would be dried cured hams, but those need soaking before cooking to get ride of excess salt.

                1. re: paulj

                  Yes that's my market, mild flavored hams! Salt and water all that is required.

      1. If there's a Honey Baked Ham store near you, they sell ham bones.

        4 Replies
        1. re: rainey

          I just checked, there's only one on all Long Island, in Levittown which is about an hour away. However I'm over that way occasionally and it would be worth it if they just sell them over the counter with no finagling. If they do, they are smart, and I will tell my hairdresser too.

          1. re: coll

            They do out here in Los Angeles. Year round.

            1. re: rainey

              Cool, I'll probably call first to make sure, but that would be a good thing to put on my itinerary next time I'm over that way ( a few times a year). I have so many hunks of ham taking up room in my freezer now that are leftover from the bones, and I only use a cup or so at a time to make gumbo or spanish rice or the like. It's the price I pay to have split pea soup though.

              1. re: coll

                and sometimes they a two for one deal. IMHO, they are so much better than ham hocks.

        2. I'm sure you already know this but if you can't get the bones why not just use ham chunks? I don't know about NY but here in NC we can get ham chunks with pieces of bone attached, called seasoning ham. Then again, NC is home of the hog and we can get just about anything from the rooter to the tooter in every form.

          IF you don't want the smoky flavor, you can use unsmoked ham hocks, pig tails, & ears...or buy some country (Smithfield) ham & grind it to add to your soup. You can also thicken the soup by pureeing a couple of ladles of the soup and stir it back into the pot.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Cherylptw

            I do carmelize a bunch of ham chunks first before anything, and deglaze the pan with sherry, it 's a nice start. They get pureed at the end with everything else, and then I add more ham to the finished product while it's reheating. But the bone is what really makes it.

            So that's where all the ham bones are hiding out, in NC! I bet that's where Hormel is based too...My husband got a Hatfield ham for Thanksgiving, when he said he was bringing home a ham, I figured like Cooks 7 or 8 lb, but this monster is taking up a whole shelf in the fridge and is way too big for the 2 of us. I'm going to let it live there until Christmas, and will have to change my menu around a bit as I never make ham for company. I was planning on making soup next week with it, and that's what made me wonder where I could get an interim bone.

            1. re: coll

              Just curious as to why you don't make ham for company?

              1. re: Cherylptw

                They expect Italian for "formal" occasions. That's easiest to me, anyway, and at 99 cents a lb or less for a ham on sale, I don't want to be seen as a cheapskate, at least that's what I would think if someone served it to me. Remember this is junky cheap ham, not anything special which I wouldn't know where to get anyway. We always do turkey for Thanksgiving, and if I was to make a roast, maybe for Easter, it would be lamb, veal or maybe beef. However this Christmas I may be breaking the tradition, we'll see how it goes over.

                PS the hams we get around here are nothing to go crazy over, usually Cooks or similar, although once I found a Smithfield. I've heard of Hatfield and was so excited to see it come through into my kitchen, now we'll see if it lives up to its (perceived by me anyway) reputation.

                1. re: coll

                  I see..hope you are able to find what you're looking for

                  1. re: coll

                    I would never think someone serving ham at a formal meal was cheap. I'd think they were awesome. But then, I grew up with ham for Easter and on Sundays.

                    1. re: northside food

                      I know, I grew up so different. My mother only served ham when money was tight.

            2. Recently discovered that split pea soup is a really good thing so I have made 3 big batches since last Easter. This is what I’ve learned about ham bones and flavor…

              Made the first batch with a leftover ham bone from a baked ham– lovely.
              Second batch with a smoked ham hock–too strong tasting, couldn’t eat it.
              Third try, a fresh (uncooked) ham hock combined with smoked bacon – lovely, again.

              3 Replies
              1. re: EM23

                Thanks for the review, I think we have the same taste in smoked products. The only smoked thing I like is salmon or other fish (and bacon of course). I really couldn't even eat the soup I made with smoked hocks, and it would be a shame to waste a whole pot of soup again. I thought maybe it was just me.

                1. re: coll

                  Just read the whole thread -- you're on LI!
                  Fairway on Manetto Hil Rd., Plainview is my fresh ham hock and bacon "dealer".

                  1. re: EM23

                    Fairway is my Mecca, I get there 2 or 3 times a year. The smoked fish counter is one of my first stops when I get there.

                    Actually Best Yet right near me is good for ham hocks and the like, actually all of Riverhead is pretty good for southern food items.

              2. Here in the Detroit area, our Coney Island places offer great breakfasts and some will sell you the left over ham bone used for eggs and ham, etc.. Try any place that serves big, traditional (eggs, hash browns, ham) breakfasts. I have one near where I live that offers them every Thursday, first come, first serve. And they're cheap; a couple of bucks!

                1 Reply
                1. re: SonyBob

                  Most breakfast places here (diners and pancake houses would be a main example, Coney Island is Nathans hot dogs to me!) usually buy Shattuck ham for breakfast ham, which is like a roll of Canadian but 2 or 3 times as wide. Even for catering they all use boneless Pit hams. Ham bones are in short supply in these parts. If I was more entrepeneurial, I'd be jumping on this idea instead of blabbing about it here ;-) There has to be a mountain of ham bones laying around somewhere from all these boneless products.

                2. Like many of you I freeze the ham stock and that serves well when no bits are available. smetimes we add small meat chunks before freezing. However the Quebec version is very good - it uses salt pork.

                  1. I've purchased them at Honey Baked Hams but I have asked friends for their left over ham bones from Christmas and Easter. I've brought them some soup in return. I usually choose friends who I know don't gnaw on the bones or leave them sitting out too long.

                    1. Here in Oregon I purchase a smoked pork shank. I like it better than the hocks as they're meatier. I've also used smoked turkey legs with good results.

                      1. This makes a slightly different soup, but once I used smoked turkey legs instead of a ham bone. Not quite the same, but we really liked it.

                        1. Usually the Honeybaked bones are already frozen, but it's always worth asking for one that is ot yet frozen - sometimes the one they are using for slices is used up and ready to hit the freezer. This is preferable because there is often over a half pound of ham on the bone, which you can remove for sandwiches before making soup. I once had a frozen one that I put straight into the soup pot. It had SO much meat on it that I had to run out for more split peas and wound up with 17 quarts of soup. You can't easily tell how much meat there is when it's frozen, and the texture suffers in thawing, so it's not as good for sandwiches as ham that hasn't been frozen.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: greygarious

                            I just went through this, calling Butchers all around Dayton. One place only that still butchers will save you one if you set it up ahead of time.
                            One butcher explained it to me something vaguely like this - the whole meat packing and distribution model has changed. Most...in depth...butchering is done off site. For him to get ham bones or "soup" bones (usually beef) he has to order them by crate which is like 60 ea and thats just too much. I'm assuming that the rest go off to beg companies to be used in commercial products. At stores here I can get hocks (feet and ankles?) and neck bones (not even sure whether those are beef or pork). Thats it. I did get a large ham bone, frozen with quite a bit of meat on it as described in a post above from one of the Ham franchises (Heavenly Ham or Honey baked can;t remember). It was 10.00 dollars! (Sold by the pound the other one was 12.00). Sort of makes your pea soup kinda expensive. But I just can't use hocks. They look disgusting and I keep thinking about how those feet were running around on poopy grates and truck floors:(

                            I've been trying to learn to make soup and this soup bone thing has really got me frustrated. The fact that you cant get beef or pork bones that are called for in recipes is really irritating.
                            One because the meat industry has changed so much but more because,
                            Two - no one is really updating their recipes apparently. "They" (authors, chefs etc.) just blithely seem to assume that we are still living in the 1970's or have helpers get their ingredients for them at great length without them knowing how hard its gotten or something. Is everyone just cribbing old recipes? Do they really test them?
                            And I realize that people who live in New York or ina Massachusetts garten can get anything. but there are a whole lot of us that don't live in those places.
                            I did find one recipe by a normal someone that detailed using a ham steak, 1" bone in as a substute because they couldn't find a ham bone either.

                            1. re: marys1000

                              As I recall - and it's been over a year, the Honeybaked bones are close to $2/lb. Some years back I did the math and realized that their boneless slices, and bones, averaged together, were the same price as buying a bone-in half or quarter ham.
                              Anyway, it's easy to spend $8 or 10 on a bone. But that will make you that many quarts of soup. A good deal in that light. Ham hocks should do the trick, but if you don't want to deal with these, I'd suggest you look in your supermarket for a "daisy butt" (aka daisy ham). It is the shape of a thick sausage, and covered in a heavy red plastic wrapping. It is boneless and has a lot of smoky flavor, Half of one (freeze the rest) will easily flavor a gallon of soupl Cut up the meat afterwards and return to the pot. Also, Superior Touch Better Than Bouillon has a ham base as well as the more common chicken and beef. Some stores carry the whole line, which also includes turkey, clam, lobster, and vegetable. They are FAR better then bouillon cubes but still salty. If you are lucky you'll find a few of them in lower-sodium, but I don't think that includes ham. Superior Touch also sells direct online.

                              1. re: marys1000

                                Hocks and feet are usually sold separately. Feet are usually split in half lengthwise, and the toes are evident. Smoked hocks may be sold without the skin. Only in Asian groceries have I seen 'long cut feet', which include the hock.

                                Feet are usually not smoked. Hocks may be either unsmoked (pork hocks), or smoked (ham hocks).

                                Smoked neck bones are most likely pork.

                                1. re: marys1000

                                  Glad you mentioned the price, before I go driving an hour to get a bone or two. I can get a bone-in ham for half that price on sale, with all the meat on it for other uses, so guess I'll stick with my old ways for now. I did see pigs feet in my local grocery yesterday, toes and all, guess if I can get over chicken feet with the little claws I could use them. Not into smoked, unless it's very light. Anyway it might have been a New Years special, I seem to see this type of thing right around now every year. Maybe with this recession we'll start seeing more old fashioned, cheap meat items, but at $2/lb rather than 50 cents like the old days. I do know that chicken backs and bones sell for 50 cents wholesale (20 or 40 lb box, can't remember ), and other bones probably not much more (except veal of course) so there is some money to be made once the demand becomes obvious.

                              2. If you are really in a bind - buy a ham slice with the "mini" bone in it. It is not the ultimate but will do the trick.

                                1. I used to buy ham bones all the time at a Honey-Baked Ham store. Super-good. They don't all sell them so keep phoning the ones in your area until you find one that does.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Querencia

                                    There's only one store on all of Long Island last I checked, and it's over an hour away. I keep cooking hams and freezing the leftover meat for to toss in various dishes, just to get those darn bones. Guess I could have worse problems.