Pork hocks are a favorite pork cut in many different countries. There are different ways to cook them, depending on your locale. The Germans have a favorite recipe featuring pork hocks, and so do Filipinos. It does not matter, really. What matters is that you learn to cook this particular cut so you will find a delightful way of serving it in case you come across it in your local market or grocery.
Don’t worry because we will give you a useful guideline in this article. Let’s start with learning what a pork hock is.
Pork Hock 101
A pork hock is a special pork cut that consist the leg down to the toes. It is the same cut used for smoked hams. It is a delightful mix of bones, some juicy meat, and a lot of fats. You can buy it either fresh or smoked. In both ways, you can use it in many different recipes – from soups to stews, and whatnots.
There are different cooking methods that can be used to extract the magnificent flavors of a pork hock. You can cook it in a crock pot (in a slow cook manner), deep fry it, boil it, or grill it. Just be careful how you cook it because cooking pork hocks can sometimes be tricky, especially in telling whether it’s properly cooked or not. Pork hocks are not-so-tender cuts. You need to be patient cooking it and be able to allot a good amount of time so you don’t compromise your family’s mealtime. To put it simply, you should plan ahead if you want to serve a pork hock recipe.
The Magic of Slow Cook
If you are cooking pork hocks in soups or stews, you need to cook it in slow cook manner. That is the best way to ensure that the flavors will be tucked in beautifully and will be released on the soup or sauce so you are able to savor its goodness.
When boiling this particular pork cut, you must place it in a crock pot, meat side first. Put in enough water to cover the meat. Season your dish with as simple as a combination of salt and pepper or as complicated as other mixes of herbs and spices. The amount of seasoning as well the kind will depend on what kind of recipe you intend to use the meat for. You can eat the boiled pork hock as is, or you can use it in different recipes from Crispy Pork Hock (or Crispy Pata, as it is known locally in the Philippines) to Pochero to Grilled Pork Hocks to Germany’s Schweinhaxen.
Once the pork hock is properly seasoned, you may boil it in high heat. Once it reaches its boiling point, you will need to lower down the heat and allow it to simmer for three to six hours, until it is tender but not falling off the bones. The best test for doneness is by piercing a fork into the meatiest part of the cut. The fork should get through but the meat should not fall apart.
Crispy Pata is a favorite delicacy in the Philippines. It is cooked simply. You just need to boil the pork hocks in your chosen mix of seasonings, spices, and herbs. Once it is tender, you will allow it to dry a bit, before you submerge it in a deep fryer. The skin will be crispy and the meat juicy. It definitely tastes like heaven.
Aside from Crispy Pata, Pochero is another favorite Filipino pork hock recipe. To cook this dish, you need some cabbage, onions, peppercorns, plantain, and peeled garlic cloves. First, put the pork hock into a crock pot together with peppercorns and garlic cloves. Allow it to cook for a couple of hours until the meat pieces become tender. While that is cooking, prepare the plantain by sautéing it in oil until its color turns to a nice golden brown. After the plantain, cook the cabbage wedges and onions in the same sautéing pan. When the pork hocks are already tender, put in the sautéed plantain, cabbage wedges, and onions. Season the mixture and remove from heat when it’s done cooking.
When grilling pork hocks, you need to set up a rotisserie over a grill. Cook the pork hocks in a medium temperature of 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about one hour and thirty minutes. To tell whether your dish is cooked through or not, you may use a meat thermometer inserted on the meatiest part. A well-done grilled pork hock should register 190 degrees Fahrenheit in the thermometer.
The Germans favorite pork hock recipe is the Schweinhaxen. To cook it, you will need bock beer, Eisbein, ground black pepper and cumin, and celery and caraway seeds. You will put all those ingredients together with the meat in a zipper lock bag. While you allow the seasonings to marinate your meat, you can prepare some carrots, leeks, onions, and celery. Toss your pork hock into the crock pot and cook it in medium to low heat with the marinade and either pork or chicken broth. Throw in the cubed veggies with crumbled bacon crisps. To set up the dish, lay down the veggies with crumbled bacon pieces first, the pork hock second, and pour in the marinade. Turn the slow cooker to high and cook the dish for four to six hours.