Need a last minute idea for Christmas dinner?
I will be hosting Christmas Eve for my family this year and will be serving this variation of a traditional holiday ham. My husband swears it's the best ham he's ever tasted, and I tend to agree. It turns out so tender it practically melts in your mouth. Plus, it can be made ahead of time so I won't be slaving away in the kitchen all day!
My family will bring dishes to round out the meal, but I will be responsible for the ham, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beans. So here's my plan:
On December 23rd I will:
- Cook the Pork Hocks (I will triple the recipe to serve 10) then store it in a baking dish in the fridge.
- Make gravy from the cooking liquid (stock).
- Reserve approx. 2 quarts of stock and store in fridge; and freeze the remainder of the stock (to use for soup at a later time).
- Par-boil green beans, then store in fridge (for Green Beans with Shallots).
Then on December 24th I can:
- Make Magic Mashed Potatoes.
- Add some reserved stock and reheat the Pork Hock.
- Saute the shallots in olive oil, add the green beans, and cook until heated through.
- Reheat gravy.
- Manage any other last minute tasks, like appetizers and set up.
I'm so excited to see if I can pull it off as smoothly as I imagine it in my head.
Easy peasy, right? Is it fancy food? No. But it's damn good. And it's not very often that we eat ham so that makes it special. Although, that's all about to change because this dish will definitely make its way into the winter meal rotation!
I discovered this recipe for Jarret de Porc Cidre (Pork Hock with Cider) in Remedy Quarterly, a wonderful, independent publication that I absolutely love. The recipe is by Orianne Cosentino, a professional chef who was inspired by her history in France to create this dish. I didn't need to adjust her recipe at all to make it allergy friendly (though I did need to research the hard cider). It is perfect as is, therefor I didn't tweak a thing! The dish turned out awesome the very first try, which is why I am confident you could totally pull it off on your first try too.
Following Orianne's recipe is my own for gravy made from the stock, should you feel inclined to make that as well.
Be sure to cut the string that runs through the ham hock, pull it out, and discard it. You don't want the fibers to add any unwanted flavor to the stock.
Also, even if the leek looks really clean, cut the staff of the leek lengthwise and rise under water, separating the layers slightly to remove any dirt that may be lodged between them. More often than not I uncover little pockets of soil left behind from growing in the field.
Hard Apple Cider is typically allergy-free, but scan the ingredients of the brand and variety you intend to use, just to be safe. One 12 fl oz bottle is just shy of the pint that is called for in the recipe, so personally, I just pour one bottle in and leave it at that.
This recipe yields about 3 servings and makes a couple of quarts of great pork stock to be saved for another recipe, just pop it in the freezer until you are ready to use it.
Pork Hock with Cider
By Orianne Costantine as published in Remedy Quarterly, Issue No.9: Escape.
For this 8SAFE recipe I used Ace Apple Hard Cider. Please understand that I've only researched the plain apple variety of hard apple cider for this recipe. Other flavors may or may not be allergy friendly.
- 1 leek
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 parsnip
- 1 small onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 7 sprigs of fresh thyme
- pinch of red pepper flakes
- 1 pint hard cider
- 3 meaty pork knuckles or hocks, about 2 1/2 pounds, preferably smoked
- salt and pepper
- Roughly chop the carrots, celery, onion, leek, and parsnip into one-inch pieces.
- Place the vegetables in a dutch oven or sturdy pot along with the pork, cider, garlic, thyme, and red pepper flakes.
- Fill the pot with water to just cover the ingredients. Place over a medium-high flame and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 to 2 1/2 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone slightly.
- Remove the meat from the pot and set aside. strain the liquid (stock) from the pot and reserve, discard the vegetables. (This can be done up to one day in advance.)
FINALLY, WHEN YOU'RE READY TO SERVE:
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Place the pork hocks in baking dish. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Pour about one inch of stock in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Reheat the hocks until heated through and the skin has crisped, about 15 minutes.
Pork Hock Gravy
If the gravy tastes flat, you may just need to add a little more salt to make it 'pop.'
- 1 cup stock vegetables
- 4 - 6 cups drained pork hock stock
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp cold water
- After the pork is done, drain the stock and puree about one cup of the cooked vegetables in a mini chop or blender, or mash with a fork.
- Place the drained stock in a saucepan to keep it hot.
- Mix the cornstarch and cold water, to make a slurry, mixing completely until the cornstarch dissolves.
- Add the cornstarch mix to the stock, stirring until the liquid thickens.
- Then add about 1/2 cup of the pureed vegetables, a teaspoon of salt, and a pinch of pepper to the mix. Adjust the seasonings to taste.