About Pork Hocks
The hock is the lower portion of the shin bone in the leg, ending just above the trotter and is consequently tough and full of connective tissues. As with all such parts of the beast, slow cooking through stewing or braising is necessary for them to truly shine. Patience will reward you with a dish full of rich flavors and irresistible aromas. Most commonly found are smoked pork hocks, which are typically used to infuse dishes such as collard greens, soups and stews with their smokiness. The hocks in our shares are fresh, with no cure or smoke (allowing for greater versatility) and are typically difficult to obtain in the North American market. Now to get on with the recipies…
The melt-in-your-mouth texture of this dish is achieved by slow cooking until the meat until is literally falling off the bones. This Chinese inspired meal is traditionally served with steamed sweet buns (man tao) but can also eaten with rice. A trip to your neighbourhood Asian grocer will likely be required to source some ingredients.
1 whole uncured pork hock, about 2 ½ lbs
½ cup of cane (red) vinegar
¾ cup of sugar
1 cup Shao Xing rice wine
½ cup of dark soy sauce
2 whole star anise
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, bruised
2” piece of ginger, sliced thinly
2 shallots, halved
1 tbsp szechwan peppercorns
1 bunch of pak choi, blanched (may substitute baby bok choy)
1 carrot, thinly sliced and blanched
1 tbsp sesame seed oil
Rinse the pork hock, pat dry and place in a shallow baking dish lined with non-stick paper. Roast 45 minutes in a preheated oven at the highest temperature that your oven allows. This will seal in juices and prevent a scum from forming while the hock is braising.
Begin the braising liquid when about 10 min of roasting time is left. Pour the vinegar into a pot just large enough to hold the pork hock. Add sugar and boil until it melts. Lower the heat and simmer until the mixture starts to thicken and turn syrupy. Add the soy sauce and rice wine. Lower the pork into the liquid. Add the star anise, bay leaves, garlic, ginger, shallots and szechwan peppercorns. If the braising liquid does not come up to 1/2 of the height of the pork hock, add water until it does. Simmer for 2 to 2-1/2 hours, turning the pork hock over every 30 minutes. Check the flavor & level of liquid after an hour and add more soy sauce if necessary (or salt if you don’t want your braised pork hock to turn too dark). If too little liquid is left, add a cup or so of water. Do not, however, add more water during the last hour of cooking to ensure that the braising liquid thickens into a sauce and does not acquire a soupy texture.
When the pork is done (should be fork tender), carefully transfer to a serving bowl. Arrange the blanched vegetables around it. Strain the sauce and pour over the pork. Heat the sesame seed oil until smoking and drizzle over the pork just prior to serving.
Beer Pairing: by Mark Horsley
Style: English Nut Brown Ale
Examples: Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown, Black Oak Nut Brown, Newcastle Brown (LCBO)
The rich nutty malt sweetness of this English ale matches the robust soy sauce, to create a deep, hearty pairing. The moderate carbonation of this ale cleanses the palette to create contrast with every bite.