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Tom's Hot Smoked, Cider Glazed Ham Hock

A fantastic festive centre piece for Christmas or New Year!

Method

Brine:

Stir all the brine ingredients together in a large clean container until the salt has dissolved, now add the hocks. Ensure that the hocks are completely submerged in the brine, cover the container and refrigerate for 2 weeks.

Smoke:

After 2 weeks the hocks will be cured and ready for hot smoking. Remove the hocks from the brine and rinse briefly under cold water. You can discard the brine, but if you wish to save the spices from the brine they can be used later when poaching the hocks. Once the hocks are rinsed off they need to be gently hot smoked for between 30-45 mins, depending how smoky you want them.

Ideally for this you need a hot smoker, but there are many other ways to hot smoke without a purposely designed hot smoker. In the past I have used an old vegetable steamer or simply just a colander inside an old pan! As long as you have a base to smoulder the chips in, something to suspend the item of food you wish to smoke in and a lid to keep the oxygen from igniting the chips you practically have a hot smoker.

Once the hocks are smoked they can be poached immediately.

Poach:

Peel and roughly chop all the vegetables and place in a large heavy based pan along with the spices and the hocks, cover with cold water and if the pan is large enough, add extra water to save topping up during the cooking process. Bring the pan up to the boil and turn down to a very gentle simmer for 3.5-4 hours or until the meat just starts to fall away from the bone. You should avoid stirring the ham around too much especially in the last hour of poaching to prevent it falling apart.

Whilst the ham is poaching the glaze can be prepared.

Glaze:

To make the glaze simply boil all ingredients and slowly reduce down to a loose syrup consistency. Be careful not burn the sides of the pan as this may cause the glaze to turn bitter.

To finish your ham:

Pre heat oven to 170c

Once the ham is poached carefully remove from the liquor, be sure to save this stock for another recipe as it will be full of flavour. Leave the ham to stand for a few minutes until cool enough to handle.

To prevent the ham from burning during the roasting period it is wise to build a trivet of vegetables in the roasting tray for the ham to sit on, this can be done using any vegetables but typically with carrots, onions, celery and hardy herbs.

Carefully transfer the ham onto the trivet and gently score the skin using a sharp knife being careful not to go through to the meat completely. If you wish you can stud the ham with a few cloves but this is mainly for decoration.

Lightly glaze the ham with some of the glaze using a pastry brush, baster or just a spoon. Don't use all the glaze as you will be repeating this a number of times. Roast for 20 min and glaze for a 2nd time then return to the oven for 10 min bursts 3 or 4 more times basting every interval. By now the ham should be looking sticky and caramelised.

Leave to rest for at least 20 minutes. To serve simply tear the ham open using forks and dress with the juices on the roasting tray and if you wish, a squeeze of fresh orange.

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Ingredients

2 uncured hocks of pork.

For the brine:

600g fine sea salt

4lt cold water

1tsp black peppercorns

1tsp pink peppercorns

1tsp coriander seeds

4 cloves

1 star anise

4 cloves of garlic crushed

3 bay leaves

2 sprigs of thyme and/or sage

Zest of half an orange

For the poaching liquor:

1 medium onion

1 small carrot

1 stick of celery

1/2 head of fennel

All the retained spices from the brine or half of the recipe above

For the glaze:

1 ltr dry apple cider

100g good quality honey

1/4 tsp black peppercorns

!/4 tsp pink peppercorns

3 cloves

2 bay leaves

3-4 garlic cloves crushed

Zest of half and orange.

Juice of one orange