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pork neckbones

I just bought a few pounds from the local meat cutter. I have some ideas of what to do with them (I'm assuming you can braise them with a mix of veg and just dump the whole mess into a bowl or over some noodles or biscuits), but I'm also curious if anyone has any ethnicity-specific ideas, like pork and sauerkraut, or something with a more latin flair, or anything that can easily be made as a one-pot meal?

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  1. Gamja tang! One of my favorite soups. I think user hannaone has a recipe, but I can't find it right now. Here's another one:


    1 Reply
    1. re: link_930

      Gamjatang - Pork Neckbone and Potato Soup
      Gamjatang is a hearty tasty soup with rich deep flavor. True Korean "comfort food", each household has it's own slightly different take on this traditional dish.

      Par boil
      4 pounds Pork neck or spine bones
      8 cups water

      Simmer Ingredients
      Spine bones from first boil
      6 cloves garlic
      2 large green onions (white only - reserve the green for the final stage)
      1 ounce ginger
      8 cups water

      Spine bones and broth from Simmer Step
      8 young boiling potatoes (round red potatoes)
      12 cloves garlic

      Cabbage Par Boil
      8 Napa cabbage leaves (outer and second layer leaves)
      1/2 teaspoon salt

      Seasoning Paste
      2 tablespoons coarse ground dried red chili pepper
      2 tablespoons fine ground red chili pepper
      6 cloves garlic
      1/2 ounce ginger
      1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine
      1 tablespoon anchovy sauce
      3 tablespoons water

      4 ounces radish greens
      2 ounces mung bean sprouts
      1 bunch (12 leaves) perilla (shiso) leaves
      2 hot green chili peppers
      Parboiled cabbage leaves
      Seasoning paste
      2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
      1/2 teaspoon black pepper
      1 tablespoon doenjang (Korean miso)

      Par Boil:
      Rinse the bones well in cold water, then cover and soak for about 2 hours.
      Drain the bones and rinse again in cold water.
      Place the bones in a stock pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil over high heat.
      Boil for five minutes, remove from heat, drain, and rinse again.

      Simmer Step:
      Slice the garlic in half from top to bottom.
      Slice the ginger in medium slices.
      Cut the onion white in half from top to bottom.
      Cover the bones in 8 cups water, add simmer ingredients, and bring to a slow simmer over med low heat.
      Simmer uncovered for two hours, adding more water as needed to maintain 3/4 the original volume.

      Potato Prep:
      Rinse the potatoes well in cold water.
      Bring a second pot of water to a boil, add the potatoes, and cook for 15 minutes.
      Remove from heat, drain, and rinse in cold water, then peel when cool enough to handle.

      Cabbage leaves:
      Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and cabbage, and boil 2 to 3 minutes.
      Remove from heat, drain, and rinse in cold water.

      Bean Sprouts, Chili peppers, onion green, and Perilla Leaves:
      Rinse the bean sprouts in cold water, removing the root tails and any green or brown shells around the heads.
      Remove stems from chili peppers then cut into slices on a diagonal.
      Chop the onion greens.
      Rinse the perilla leaves in cold water, then cut into narrow strips lengthwise.

      Seasoning Paste:
      Peel the garlic and ginger then place in a blender with the water and liquefy.
      Mix all paste ingredients together in a small bowl and let stand for at least fifteen minutes to let flavors develop.

      Sesame Seeds:
      Place the the sesame seeds into a dry pan over medium heat.
      Cook until seeds are a light golden brown, shaking or stirring often.
      Remove from heat and let cool.
      Crush seeds in a mortar, pulse in a blender, or powder in a coffee grinder.

      Remove the pot with the neckbones from heat.
      Carefully take the bones out of the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside.
      Remove remaining vegetable matter from the broth and discard.
      Strain the broth into another pot.
      Return the bones to the broth and bring to a boil over high heat.
      Add the potatoes, doenjang paste, and the seasoning paste, then boil until potatoes are done (a chopstick or fork can pass through with little resistance).
      Add the Bean Sprouts, pepper, cabbage leaves, perilla strips, sesame powder, and the sliced chili peppers and cook another five minutes.
      Sprinkle with chopped onion greens and serve hot with steamed white rice and kimchi.

    2. Neck bones are THE key ingredient to a lot of Italian grandmothers' long-simmered gravy. Some remove them and return the meat to the sauce, while others serve them to be eaten with the hands like ribs.

      Also very good in gumbo. Here, I'd separate the meat before you serve.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dmd_kc

        Yes, a very good Italian friend makes hers with neck bones too. As did her mother and grandmother. Delicious.

        1. re: dmd_kc

          I use them in my italian gravy, and I pull them out, and eat them as my 'chef's treat'. I would hesitate to serve them as/is, to be honest, because some of those bones are so tiny. I'd probably pull off all of the meat, if I wanted to share....

        2. Not a fan of her cooking, but this recipe sounds pretty good (omitting butter, adding herbs):

          1. My dad brought a big bunch home one night and Mom did the spareribs-and-kraut recipe with them. Omigawd. Very messy to eat, had to use fingers to get in there and poke stuff loose, and when we were done we were greasy and grinning like lunatics. Never did it again, but the memory lingers...

            I buy them as a foundation for gumbo. Simmer them gently in diluted chicken stock, cool, dig all the meat out and then proceed. And one of these days by golly I'm going to have them with kraut again.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Will Owen

              I've never tried them with sauerkraut -- but my favorite meat market always has them, and I was planning on trying something new this coming Monday night. You've given me my menu, Will! Mom's gonna be in town, and she will DEFINITELY be into this.

            2. Thanks for the recommendations! I am currently torn between just doing a generalized braise with veg and maybe some rice at the end, or trying an old school Italian grandma sauce. I know that traditionally, ground meats are probably used, too, but I'm on the unemployed budget and want to work with what I've got. It seems like any general tomato sauce would be great simmering with the neckbones for a day. Hmmmmmmm. I'm gonna sleep on it, double check for additional suggestions tomorrow, and make my decision then.

              Im really intrigued by the Korean soup, but it seems to call for a number of ingredients that I don't have access to at the moment. :(

              1. Feel your pain on the economic pinch these days. I just made a delicious beef stew (a braise, really) with cross-cut beef shanks that were running $2.29/lb. Been dying for some pork neckbones myself, but they're a little hard to get in these parts.

                Anyhow, I am _not_ a frugal gourmet fan, but a friend convinced me to try this recipe awhile back. Only made it once, but it was really quite good and easy as peas. Note that while the recipe says to discard the bones, doing so constitutes a serious sin in my book. Include a couple with each serving. Also, I replaced all the dried herbs with what seemed an appropriate amount of fresh ones----as I usually do when adapting older recipes. Please report back if you make it.


                2 Replies
                1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                  Ladies and gentlemen, I think the scales just tipped in the favor of Italian (partly because this does sound like a super-easy first thing to try and I've been dying for some decent pasta. I'm bored with my usual straight tomato sauce!).

                  Indirect Heat: I am bookmarking your blog. I am gonna try that broth when I have a full day or so at home without having to run out of the house for anything. That looks AMAZING. I saw David Chang on Martha Stewart the other day (again: unemployed here). I want that dang book! Thanks for testing portions of it and posting such awesome step-by-step info!

                  1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                    I find them in the butcher shops of local Chinese markets in Oakland.

                  2. I use them when making Asian inspired soup with dumplings. Not a lot of meat but adds great flavor to the broth

                      1. Whatever you do, save some for scrapple. It takes scrapple to a whole new level. Sort of like using a bit of prime ribeye in your hamburger patties.

                        14 Replies
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          What IS scrapple, anyway? I've heard of it, and I know that I've had this discussion with a friend from Pennsylvania who's shocked it's not common culinary currency, but we had been tipping a few back when the conversation went down and I'm kind of drawing a blank. Is it like grits, or cornmeal mush?

                          1. re: dingey

                            Scrapple is kind of like a terrine with a fair amount of grain (corn I believe) as a filler.

                            1. re: KTinNYC

                              A "terrine"? KT, you make it sound so high class. LOL.

                              dingey, most people think of scrapple as basically pork mush.
                              read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrapple

                              1. re: KTinNYC

                                Lot of liver in scrapple. It really is kind of a sliced, fried liver paste.

                                1. re: Indirect Heat

                                  Philadelphia scrapple, which is the scrapple that most folks nowadays are familiar with, has no liver. The simple way to look at it is it's a combination of head cheese and cornmeal mush. In fact I made some exactly that way - made up a batch of mush and then melted and stirred head cheese into it. There are some CH threads on the subject, at least one of which chronicles my scrapple saga.

                                  Anyway, gotta think of neck next time I try some of that. Beans is something else I should've thought of, especially remembering the wonderful cassoulet I made with lamb neck...

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    In some places the version with lots of liver is called livermush

                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      Wait a second, here, Will.

                                      You sayin' that you've never had scrapple made with neck bones??

                                      I think I just lost a bit of respect for ya ...


                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Scrapple is not in my family background, or a least not in the part that was transmitted to me... though my grandpa's folks (in Illinois) were all German Mennonites, and had a big pig farm, so surely they knew of it. Anyway, I had to discover it on my own, and only recently decided that if I wanted some I was gonna have to make it. My first efforts were chronicled on one of these Boards, as any future ones probably will be, and we WILL get into neckbones. Promise.

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          You haven't lived until you've had scrapple made with neck bones ... Do let us know how you like it with neck bones!

                                      2. re: Will Owen

                                        Ahh, the stuff I had was when I lived in Baltimore. People rave about it there. I never quite understood the attraction...

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          Will, I long for Scrapple. My father used to make it, and sometimes buy it in a can. He'd fry it up and serve it with poached/fried eggs and broiled tomatoes. Sheesh! It was delicious.

                                        2. re: Indirect Heat

                                          How is this different then a terrine?

                                          1. re: KTinNYC

                                            The difference is that scrapple is not eaten as is, but sliced and then fried, as mush and polenta often are. Served with applesauce as a side dish, or with eggs for breakfast, which is how I like it.

                                      3. re: dingey

                                        Scrappe is pork scraps cooked with cormeal and flavored with salt pepper and sage. Its cooked until a spoon will just about stand up in it, placed in a pan or mold and allowed to cool. It keeps well refrigerated. Its sliced, dipped in an egg wash and flour and fried. Usuallly eaten for breadfast but can be part of any meal. My Yankee spouse had to eat so much of it during the big one (WWII) she cannot stomach it to this day, yet, she stil sings this little dity at times. "Scrapple O Lee O Lee A
                                        Comes from Fil La Delph Fi A
                                        Taste It Once and You'll Agree
                                        Sscrapple Is The Meal For Me."

                                    2. And again, thanks EVERYONE for the great ideas! Knowing how cheap these cuts are, i may be experimenting more in the near future. I'll let you know how it works out!

                                      1. I wound up making the Italian gravy recipe recommended by eightinchpestle, and it was fantastic. I wish it were the appropriate season to have fresh herbs on hand, because i suspect it would brighten it up even more, but holy cats, that's a tasty sauce! It makes a TON, but that just means more reward for the effort. Really nice depth and silkiness for really only being a two-hour cooking time!

                                        I'm going to try some other stuff with neckbones. yep. I wasn't sure how they'd break down once they were cooked (I was envisioning having to deal with bone fragments or lots of extra-tough connective stuff, etc). They basically fall apart like a well-cooked rib, with a similar flavor.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: dingey

                                          So glad to hear it worked out for you, dingey. That lack of connective tissue and bone fragments is part of what makes pork necknbones so surprising for a bargain cut. I am mortified of the day they become trendy and the price triples, a la short ribs and ox-tail. Anyhow, if you do ever use fresh herbs, it pays to hold back about 1/4 and toss them in about 15 minutes before serving so you get that fresh punch to complement the deeper and mellower flavors.

                                          1. re: eight_inch_pestle

                                            And lamb shank! It's horrifying to have to pay $12 for barely enough to feed two people. Also short ribs and even oxtails are now expensive, since you have to buy more to get enough meat.

                                            I've been trying the butcher shops in Chinese markets lately and have found meat for a lot less. They also have real, LIVE butchers cutting what you want.

                                          2. re: dingey

                                            I use them in my Sunday Gravy and i do not see the need for fresh herbs except for basil Dried basil is nasty, but done properly it's cooked all day. Dried herbs stand up to that. Fresh is wasted.

                                          3. Not that anyone in southeast Asia would dare do this (I don't think), but here not a soul is offended when I make a curried stew using pork neck bones. Lamb and chicken are customary as you know, but beef and pork work just as well, if not better. Enjoy this with some basmati rice, naan, chana, or some cucumber, onion, and tomato salad.

                                            1. I have used these when I was unable to find a ham hock for my black bean soup. Just find a recipe you like and subsitute the neck bones for the hock. I use mine for flavoring only.

                                              1. Just wanted to report that I thawed out the remaining neckbones and used them in a big pot of collards. Browned the bones a bit first, then sauteed some onion and threw in the collards and the bones and a bunch of stock and let the whole mess simmer for a few hours before pulling the meat off the bones. Add some stoneground grits, and it was a meal all unto itself, so melty and delicious! Mmmmmm./....

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: dingey

                                                  That sound so good...I'm going to have to make some greens sometime soon....

                                                  1. re: dingey

                                                    Dingey - You've given me some inspiration - I too am on the unemployed budget and I've seen those neck bones at ridiculous cheap prices and wondered "what in the world would I do with it and would I like it"?? They're definitely on my radar now.

                                                  2. GAMJA TANG! -> korean pork neckbone soup (directly translated means potato soup)
                                                    absolutely delicious, i agree with the first posters :)

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: currentlycraving

                                                      I ended up soaking them for an hour in cold water....don't know why this is needed, but the video about the Korean soup said to soak so I soaked even though I didn't make the soup.

                                                      I browned them, then added some chopped onion and garlic, some chicken broth and a few squished up canned tomatoes. I also added a couple of pinches of thyme and a bay leaf.

                                                      I let this simmer for a couple of hours and then took out the neck bones and let them cool a bit, pulled off all the meat from the bones which was quite easy and put them back into the sauce. Cooked it for a few more minutes and served with some linguini as a sort of ragu.

                                                      This was absolutely delicious. The meat was tender and flavorful and I am going to add pork neck bones to my regular repertoire. AND they're cheap. Next I'm going to try some soul food type dish using them with greens.

                                                      1. re: oakjoan

                                                        Until fairly recently (past 30 to 50 years) Korean meat markets were open air markets. No refrigeration and usually no cases or packaging.
                                                        The initial soak and rinse is to loosen congealed blood and any caked dust/dirt/grime.
                                                        The initial boil and subsequent rinse is to remove the loosened matter, bone dust/fragments that embed in meat from cutting, and insect leavings.

                                                        Hopefully the neckbones will stay cheap, they really are very good.

                                                        1. re: hannaone

                                                          Bumping this post. I just saw The Kimchi Chronicles on PBS and Marja investigate and cook Gamjatang, so, happening to drive by our local H Mart after a meeting, I ducked in and bought a pack of meaty, not too fatty looking pork neck bones. $3.77 for what should be 4 servings with veg, potatoes, etc.

                                                          They look clean and really nice, though I'm soaking them for a bit to see if any blood releases, I'm really not sure that I'll have to do this at all - the H Mart packaged meats are butchered and packed like those at any American supermarket, and these neck bones look really clean and nicely cut (no hanging bits, bone dust, etc.). Cannot wait for a big spicy pot of stew on this incredibly windy, cold Michigan day.

                                                          Update - after 1 hour of soaking, the nice, clean H Mart neck bones have released a small amount of blood. I changed the cold water and will soak a bit longer. Not at all like the photos I've seen on some recipes of very red water - these are nice quality and don't seem to require much soaking at all.

                                                          1. re: HillsofBeverly

                                                            The soak probably isn't needed in most cases with today's cutting practices.

                                                            Neckbones are really one of the best "cheap" cuts you can get. They are versatile and can be used any number of ways. I am partial to Korean cooking, but they can be used in many stews, soups, and braises from just about any origin with really good results.

                                                    2. My best friend's Grandma was a tremendous cook, very 'country' by our standards (my mom was a fan of convenience food), but everything Grandma Madden made was wonderful She used to sear off neckbones that had been salted & peppered, and then simmer them for hours in a few cans of sauerkraut. She served the neckbones & kraut with cornbread and it was wonderful.

                                                      1. I love pork neckbones. Smoked pork neckbones, especially, have become part of my basic kitchen arsenal in the last ten years, since they're always available super cheap around here. I always keep a package in the freezer and use them when making beans. Awesome.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                          I use them in my italian sauce recipe. They are so very delicious!

                                                        2. What I do is season the water I boil them in then when there done,I take them out put bbq sauce on them pop them in the oven 20 min.....In that broth I add greenbeans and white potatoes onions. Oh Boy!! Don't forget the cornbread.

                                                          1. I never heard of neckbones till I met my husband. They are good with sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and warm applesauce with cinnamon. Dip neckbones in horseradish. Yum!

                                                            1. I see smoked pork neck bones all the time at my local markets I assume I'd use these for beans etc just like a ham hock.

                                                              Are bones that posters are refering too here smoked or not (I am assuming No).

                                                              Great thread.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: sparky403

                                                                I think people are talking about neckbones generally but you are so right that you can use the smoked ones like a ham hock.
                                                                So good.

                                                              2. Neckbones (smoked or plain) and rice are a famiy staple in many areas of the South. I prepare it just like Jambalaya but without any tomato.

                                                                1. All fatty and odd cuts of pork are good. I regularly cook with neck bones, tails , and feet. The only pork I stew ,roast, make sausage from is butt. Cause it has a fair amount of fat. The other cuts are so lean I don't care to fuss over them.to make them attractive and tasty. Too much work Just go with the good stuff.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: NOLA_Pam

                                                                    A nice fresh pork butt, larded with slivers of garlic and a little parsley is my favorite way to do pork. Extract the fat from the drippings. add a ltttle roux and pork stock and serve over rice or mashed potatos with some greens on the side. Oh, almost forgot, add baked sweet potatoes with plenty butter.

                                                                  2. Boil them to make broth with vegetables and make dumplings like chicken pot pie (not chunky dumplings - make flat dumplings - google search for "slick dumplings").

                                                                    1. Bought about 5 bones; $3.00. Store had "fresh" ham hocks which I bought as well. I was thinking a stock, for the neck (stripped almost bare!). The hock has maybe a cup of meat on it. I'm going to skip the par boil, but I like the first links.

                                                                      1. Lately when it comes to making stock to have on hand I've found pork necks and ham hocks (smoked usually) are super handy and versatile. It's great for a quick noodle soup or just to cook beans in.

                                                                        Plus they're the cheapest cuts at the store these days, and probably will stay that way until someone learns how to serve them Buffalo style at tailgate parties.