Ham Hock goes a long way

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you will note that food appears quite a lot. In these troubled times, I thought I would take a moment to write something about food that doesn’t cost a fortune but is tasty and feeds many. Ham hock goes a long way. Two purchased on Saturday from our local village butchers, C.R. Potters for a total price of £3.98. That’s 2.8kg of meat product for under £4!!

I shall show you how to cook a ham hock followed by 3 recipes (over the next 3 days) that you can try. Don’t worry none of them is the German/Polish versions of boiled pork knuckle, as they call it. We will be using the meat that has been stripped from the fat and skin after cooking.

  • Ham Hock Terrine
  • Ham Hock & Puy Lentils
  • Pea & Ham Soup

So let’s get going. Once you have purchased your ham hock it needs to be cooked. This is where people get put off saying it is “too much trouble” and “a lot of work”. Truth is, that once you have spent 10 mins in the initial preparation, there is nothing else to do for the next 3 hours. The following is unashamedly copied from BBC Good Food with a few adjustments and pictures from myself.


  • 2 ham hocks, about 1.3kg/3lb each
  • onion, quartered
  • carrots, quartered lengthways
  • celery sticks, cut into thirds crossways
  • a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf


1.) Before starting the cooking process, first, blanch the ham hock to rinse away any impurities. To do this, just put the joints in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 minute, then carefully move the pan to the sink and drain off the hot water. Refresh the hams under cold running water for a minute or so, then tip out the water. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. There will be quite a bit of yuk that floats to the top and tipped away.

Ham hock
Ham hock ready for blanching

2. The cooking process can now begin. To the blanched ham hocks in the pan, add the onion quarters, along with the quartered carrots and the celery sticks, the thyme and bay leaf. Pour in enough fresh cold water to cover and bring to a simmer. The pan can now be covered with its lid and the hams cooked, keeping the liquor at a gentle simmer for 3 hours. Time to do whatever you want whilst observing the current COVID-19 guidelines.

Ham Hocks with vegatables
Ham Hocks with vegetables and herbs

3. To check if hams are cooked, pull out the small bone close to the large one – it should be loose and come out easily. Rest hams in the stock for 15-20 minutes (30 minutes, ideally), so the meat softens and relaxes. Lift out the hams and set aside until cool enough to handle – this will take a little while. Reserve leftover stock, we will need this for the recipes as mentioned above.

Cooked ham hocks
Cooked ham hocks

4. Cut away the fat and skin and remove the meat. This can get sticky and messy! If you have any disposable latex gloves – use them.

Ham hock meat
Ham hock meat

My two hocks yielded 900g of lean meat. You might say that this is not a lot from 2.8kg of the original hock, but you have ended up with nearly a kilo of edible meat for £4. I used some of this to cook our first recipe of Ham Hock & Puy Lentils, which Mrs CT and myself ate tonight. The rest of the meat is now in the fridge.

Ham stock
Ham stock

5. Strain the stock a couple of times through a sieve and chuck away all the bits and pieces. I then removed 900ml of stock for my first recipe. Put the rest in the fridge which not only keeps the stock fresh but also will form a “fat cake” overnight which makes it easy to remove the next day.

First recipe tomorrow