We’re cooking up a different kind of Christmas ham this festive season…
When it comes to Christmas feasting, everyone loves a good old joint of ham, but why stick to traditional cuts when less expensive alternatives can be just as delicious? Found between the knee and the trotter, the hock offers a rich and succulent meat, dark pink in colour and so tender that it falls off the bone. As well as being a pleasure to eat, it’s also very versatile: the meat can be incorporated into a multitude of dishes, including terrines, pasta, stews, soups and salads, while the juices released from the bone when boiled or braised can be used to make incredibly flavoursome meat stocks, sauces and gravy.
To demonstrate just how delicious and suitable for Christmas ham hock is, we’ve asked sous chef Rich Bowman of award-winning Somerset restaurant, The Ethicurean, to share a recipe for you to try out at home, and we’re sure you’ll love what he’s come up with. Slow-roasted in cider with honey and mustard, it’s wonderfully sweet and sticky and sure to impress your dinner guests this Christmas.
This cooking tip features under door number three of the Cotton Traders advent calendar – be sure to take a look for more festive inspiration.
P.S. Choosing a title for this post was surprisingly tricky – it’s amazing just how many puns work with the word hock. Hock-to-Trot, Get your Hocks On, Hockin and Rollin, Hock Your World, Hock Yourself Out, Go Hock Yourself, Hocking Around the Christmas Tree, and Hock ‘N’ Roll were all contenders for the title!
Slow-Roasted Ham Hock with Honey, Mustard and Cider
1 ham hock
1 large white onion (roughly chopped)
1 celery stick (roughly chopped)
1 carrot (roughly chopped)
5 chestnut mushrooms (quartered)
500ml dry cider
4 sprigs fresh thyme
4 garlic cloves (peeled)
2 tbsp. clear honey
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. hot English mustard
1. Using a sharp knife, score the layer of skin which surrounds the hock and then leave to cook on the middle shelf of a preheated oven (250˚C/482˚F).
2. After half an hour, turn the temperature down to 140˚C/284˚F and add the vegetables, garlic, cloves and thyme to the tray. Next, mix the cider, honey and mustard together in a bowl and pour the liquid over the meat. Leave to slow-cook for five hours or until the meat easily comes away from the bone. To ensure the meat doesn’t dry out whilst cooking, baste with the juices at 20-minute intervals until done.
3. When the meat is suitably tender, remove from the oven and leave to cool, or serve hot with a selection of trimmings – braised leeks and Dauphnoise potatoes are particularly good with this recipe, but any of the traditional accompaniments will work just as well.