Monday, 31 January 2011

GREAT STORECUPBOARD FINDS No. 5

No. 5 Pulled Ham Hock
Not strictly "storecupboard" as this item needs to be kept in the fridge. Nor is it some kind of peculiar bucolic sport from deepest Dorset: "Arrr, I'll be a-pulling your ham hocks later, my loverrr" (that's enough local dialect. Ed.)

This is another ingredient that reminds me of my childhood. My mother cooked ham hocks fairly regularly, braising them slowly until the fat turned sticky and the meat fell easily from the bone. She used to serve them with onion or mustard sauce. She also cooked pigs' trotters, and I have never ever been squeamish about eating most parts of the animal since....

I have always been rather averse to products like this, which I consider to be "lazy" ingredients. I would prefer to buy the ham hock, cook it and "pull" it myself, but ham hocks are hard to find these days, unless you have a specialist butcher nearby, or happen to work around the corner from Smithfield Meat Market (as Other Half does - occasionally, very occasionally, he brings a big fat pork chop home for my supper, or a rib of beef, if I'm really good). Since Waitrose took on the Sainted Delia, and Heston Blumenthal as figureheads, or something, more of these "cheat's ingredients" have appeared on the shelves, enabling curious shoppers and part-time cooks to recreate their recipes. Thus, one can also buy shredded duck and chopped chorizo (which I can imagine would be quite nice fried until crispy and sprinkled into a salad with Roquefort and some nice, peppery Rocket). I only bought the pulled ham hock because it was on offer, and, being greedy, I had to try it as soon as I got home. I was expecting something rather dry and possibly not terribly flavourful. In fact, it is succulent and sweet, and very reminiscent of dishes my mother cooked in the 1970s......

Pea and ham soup seems a great way to use this ingredient. Of course, you could also pair it with lentils, or yellow split peas, or have it on toasted sourdough bread, rather like the French rillettes. Or you could just do what I did, and pick it out of the packet and eat it with your fingers straight from the fridge!

Heston's Pea and Ham Soup, the recipe for which was supplied on the handy card near the ingredients when I was in Waitrose the other day, is a perfect spring dish. Light and fresh with a hint of mint, the finished soup looks so pretty with the pink pulled ham hock floating on the pale green liquid.

Find the recipe here.

More information about Waitrose Cooks' Ingredients range here

1 comment:

  1. Excellent and useful article! Thanks for taking the time to post this.

    ReplyDelete