Ham hocks are not quite the trotters nor the legs of of a pig but rather more the ankles. Full of fat, tendons and other grisly bits, they don't appear to be quite as popular as other below-the-waist cuts yet their flavour is tremendous and they're cheap to boot. Smoked hocks are my favourite, simmered in stews to impart a sensuously deep and lingering kiss. Partnered with the humble and understated cannellini bean and a few fragrant herbs and spices, this stew served cool is the perfect foil for those hot summer nights. If you have a tasty, tasty legume recipe make sure you join in this months 'My Legume Love Affair' event!
Smoked Trotter Stew
4 pork trottersRemove skin from the trotters with a small sharp knife and discard.
50 g duck fat
1 brown onion, sliced
3 tsp salt
1 head of garlic, halved
3 cinnamon quills
1 knob of ginger, sliced thickly
4 star anise
1 C. shaoxing (Chinese rice wine)
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
600 g smoked ham hock (on the bone)
5 bay leaves
4 small sprigs of rosemary
2 C. cooked cannellini beans
1 handful of parsley leaves
Heat duck fat in a large pot and brown trotter bones. Remove and set aside.
In the same pot sweat off the onion with salt until translucent.
Throw in the garlic, cinnamon, ginger, star anise and stir it all around for a bit.
De-glaze with shaoxing and cook for a minute more until almost dry.
Return trotters to the pot with celery, carrots, ham hock and 3.5 L of water.
Bring to the boil and skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.
Now you can add the bay leaves and rosemary.
Reduce heat to a bare simmer and leave it alone for 2 hours. Top it up if need be.
The hock should be nice and tender now so fish it out while it's still hot, set it on a plate and strain everything out of the stock.
Drop the hock back into the stock and let it cool (this will keep it tender and juicy).
When it reaches room temperature pull it out onto a wide chopping board and peel off the skin, discard and separate the flesh from the bone.
Chop the smoky flesh into bite-sized pieces and divide into serving bowls with a handful of cannellini beans and a sprinkling of parsley, roughly chopped at the last minute.
Taste the stock and perfect the seasoning.
Ladle into bowls over the pork and beans.
Best enjoyed cool.