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gammon hock with plum sauce

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Ham hock

Something so primeval about eating a piece of animal leg on the bone. You imagine yourself a medieval squire, waving the whole joint of meat about before greedily biting into the fat, spitting out gristle, washing it down in a very slurpy manner with a goblet of rich wine. Chicken drumsticks far too dainty for the experience, lamb shanks better, but a ham hock is the real McCoy.

Of course it's slightly too large to wave about and probably too substantial for one by modern standards - and where on earth can you get hold of a goblet? One to share then - and no waving.

Soak it, boil, it, roast it - just like gammon. It likes mustard and honey, it will be so tender you won't need a carving knife. There's a bit of fat and rind on the hock but also plenty of those round lean succulent muscles nestled around the bone. Tastier than boneless gammon actually - and what a nice price.

gammon hock with plum sauce

Servings: 2Time: boiling 3 hours, roasting 1

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 gammon hock, cured and smoked, about 1.3kg (to serve 2)
  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 onion, peeled roughly, halved
  • a few garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed lightly with a back of a knife
  • a few juniper berries
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • a generous grating of nutmeg
  • 2tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 3tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • For the plum sauce:
  • 4 ripe plums
  • a knob of butter
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • a handful of raisins
  • 100ml gammon stock
  • 1tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Demerara sugar
  • ½ tsp cornflour mixed in a little cold water (optional)

Gammon hock


METHOD

1. Soak the hock in cold water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse, place in a large stock pot with the carrot, onion, garlic, juniper, peppercorns and nutmeg and pour over enough cold water to cover the hock. bring to the boil, turn the heat right down and simmer gently for 3 hours. If too much liquid boils off, top up with boiling water. Leave in the cooking liquid to cool completely.

Boiling and glazing gammon hock

2. Lift the hock from the stock (reserve it, makes a great base for hearty soups) and place on a roasting dish lined with two layers of aluminium foil (the sticky glaze will make the dish impossible to clean). Score the skin with a sharp knife in a diagonal pattern.

3. Mix the mustard with the maple syrup and brush all over the hock; you can reserve some to top up the basting halfway through the roasting time. Roast in an oven preheated to 190C/375F/gas 5 for an hour, until the skin is browned and crispy. Rest for a few minutes, serve with plum sauce, stir-fried cabbage and fried potatoes.

Plum sauce

4. For the plum sauce, stone the plums and cut into eighths. Melt the butter in a small pan, add the plums and cook on medium heat for a few minutes until they start to break down. Add the cinnamon, chilli, raisins and cook for a few minutes longer. Add the stock and lemon juice, cook it down to thicken the sauce – if it’s too thin, add the cornflour. Check for sweetness and add the sugar if it’s not sweet enough.

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