Pulled Pork Hock with Lentils and Beans
Aggressive, rude and manly. The three words that come to my mind when I think of ham hocks. They’re full of flavour and extremely versatile, great at enhancing any soup or stew. I hadn’t come across their unsalted cousin before buying a butchered half pig last year. It had been left languishing in my freezer while all the trendier cuts were cooked months ago. I hadn’t even planned on cooking it this week. Yesterday was meant to be a day for spicy lamb meatballs, but after pulling the freezer apart and realising it was lamb-less, this little bundle of skin, bone, fat and flesh was smiling at me….”please give me a chance?”
The hock needs to be cooked for a long time to break down all the muscle fibres. The three hours here does it well while the sticky sauce cuts through the rich flesh. Lentils are the perfect partner to any pork dish with this being no exception. Cooked this way, an 800g – 1Kg hock, should feed 2 people so feel free to double the recipe if you’re serving 4.
1 Pork Hock (about 800g-1Kg)
2 Onions (roughly chopped)
2 sticks of Celery (roughly chopped)
2 Carrots (roughly chopped)
3 cloves of Garlic (crushed)
1 Bay Leaf
10 Red Peppercorns
2 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tin of Butter Beans
150ml Apple Juice
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Put the hock in a pot and cover completely with cold water. Bring to the boil and discard all of the frothy water in the pot. Again, cover the hock with cold water and add 1 onion, 1 stick of celery, 1 carrot, 2 cloves of garlic, the bay leaf and red peppercorns. Cover, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 2 hours, topping up with more water if necessary.
2. Remove the hock from the pot and strain the cooking liquid, reserving it for cooking the lentils and sauce. You can discard the vegetables. Put the remaining onion, celery, carrot and garlic onto the bottom of a roasting tray. Dry the hock with kitchen paper and place ontop of the vegetables. Drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the oil and season well. Put into a 170 degree preheated oven for 1 hour.
3. Meanwhile cook the lentils. Set aside 250ml of the hock cooking liquid for the sauce and pour the remainder into a saucepan. Cook the lentils according to packet instructions in this liquid (adding boiling water if necessary) and add the beans for the final few minutes.Drain and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Season well and set aside.
4. Remove the hock from the roasting tray and set aside to rest for a few minutes. Add the apple juice and the 250ml reserved cooking liquid, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan. Put on the hob and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes before straining the sauce (discard the veg) and adding back to the pan.
5. Remove the skin from the hock and pull all the flesh from the bone with a fork. Season lightly and add to the sauce. Put the pan on a high heat and reduce the sauce until it is thick and sticky. Serve the pork on a bed of the lentils and beans.