Ham hock soup

Origin: Michael Hutchinson (verbatim)

There are 4 stages to this recipe, it's a long job but only because you have to let things cook. You do not use salt as the meat is salty, see below.

  1. Pre-boiling the hock to desalinate and clean it (chuck the H2O used here)
  2. Cooking the hock to separate the meat from the bones, second lot of liquid.
  3. Making a stock with the bones, fat and skin and the second lot of liquid.
  4. Adding the meat and veggies to the part 3 stock, to make the soup

Get a fresh ham hock from the butchers, it will do 4. There is the meat and there is the gristle/fat and there is the skin, I like and eat it all, you can make your choice as it separates out during the cooking.

Give it a good wash, cover with cold water and bring to the boil for up to 10 minutes depending upon the salt content.

Ditch the water and start again, this is the second lot of liquid. However there is no need to fully cover it, this is only to save on reduction later, so you can do that or no, as you like. Simmer medium vigorous for half to an hour to the point where the meat is easily cut from the bones, the deeper stuff will probably only be lightly cooked (that's ok).

You are going to cut away the meat (a lot will just fall away) and put it on one side till stage 4 because you do not want to boil the flavour out of it.

Pull the bones apart and put them back into the water with the fat and skin and gristle. Throw in all the cut aways from the veggies, such as broccoli stalk, cabbage stalk, a carrot or two, 10 black pepper corns, 3/5 bay leaves, one large qtr'd potato, some onion, some dried or fresh herbs, in fact anything which adds to the stock. Simmer for 2 hours or so, strain and stick in the fridge, keeping the fat and gristle and skin (as is your want). It will set to a jelly with the fat on top, which you skim away. You have your stock.

This final stage is quite quick especially if you like crisp veggies. Heat up the stock and finish cooking the meat which you have cut to the size you want. This is where the purists put the gristle etc' back in too. Reduce it to the thickness you like and add anything else you like here also. Once the meat is cooked; when you can pull it into strandy chunks; we go to 4.

The cooking effect I want is to put a layer of chopped cabbage over everything, followed with a layer of chopped broccoli, which is cooked from the steam coming up through the cabbage layer, about 10 minutes depending on how vigorously you boil the stock, I like to do it gently.

Use a green cabbage such as Celtic or Savoy but nor white. When the broccoli is cooked to your liking stir it all together and chuck it out the window, Ha Ha.

All amounts subject to how much you want to eat and all ingredients subject to what you fancy. The art is to manage the salt content but that will come with practice.