Friday, January 16, 2009

Bacon hock

My butcher sells bacon hocks for about £2.50 each. There is enough meat on one to feed three to four people - and it is delicious.

Some smoked hocks are very salty, and require soaking for 12 hours or longer. The ones I get do not. I put a hock into a stockpot (or pasta pan), cover it with water, bring it to a simmer, skim off the froth, and turn down the heat to its lowest. My pot has a heavy base; a low flame causes the liquid (with the pot uncovered) merely to show a few bubbles rising to the surface, rather than to simmer. Gentle heat tenderises the meat without drying it out. (Recipes that imply that meat will remain moist if surrounded by liquid or vapour - from the effect of a foil wrapping, say - are misleading. Indeed the liquid, because it is so effective at cooking, will dry out the meat faster.) I give it two hours.

It seems unadventurous to poach the hock in plain water - though it is hard to believe that a few surrounding vegetables will have much effect. However, you can keep the liquid and use it as a stock; for that reason, I usually throw in an onion or two, a couple of carrots, celery if I have it, and peppercorns.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I pressure cook mine on high for 35 minutes

Nicholas Clee said...

While I've never used a pressure cooker, I know that many swear by them. What puzzles me is that subjecting meat to this kind of cooking should in theory dry it out; but clearly pressure cooker owners get moist and tender results.