I’ve had two people ask me lately, “What do you do with pork hocks?”
Short answer —you savor them.
Hocks come from just above the first joint of the leg, front and back. They look like the end of a tiny ham because that’s exactly what they are. I think hocks fell in popularity with the rise of confinement-raised pork and the demise of local butcher shops throughout the 70’s and 80’s. One of my customer’s grandparents were thrilled when he gave them smoked hocks from one of my pigs for Christmas. They hadn’t been able to find good smoked hocks for years.
With the bone, connective tissue, and rich muscle fibers, smoked hocks pack an intense flavor. Uncured, they are milder but still delicious. I’ve also brined them at home and smoked them on a charcoal grill. Too rich to eat by themselves.
We use hocks mostly in lentil or bean dishes. I know one person who loves them in chili. I haven't tried that yet., but it's on my list now. The ham-and-beans dish that I grew up with is even better as smoked-hocks-and-beans. We always ate our ham and beans with cornbread. Not surprisingly, cornbread made from freshly-ground, open pollinated corn also has a much stronger flavor that compliments the smoked hocks. You can’t buy cornmeal like that. However, if you buy some hocks or any other pork (or you’ve purchased in the past) , I know a guy who could get you some cornmeal, just for the asking.
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Former Marine Infantry Officer. Iraq Vet. Interested in Regenerative Agriculture at any scale.
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The Odyssey Farm Journal
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