12 May 2006, Comments Off on Balance your budget with pork

Balance your budget with pork

Author: Helen

Now that the Budget’s in, you’ll need a recipe to use up all that pork.

I like to try to copy things I eat in restaurants or at friends’ houses. A while back, I had a risotto in a somewhat posh restaurant the name of which escapes me. It was a ham hock risotto – a silky, smoky, melt-in-the-mouth flavour explosion. And because I often make pea soup with ham hocks I thought it shoudn’t be too difficult.

It isn’t. You need two days, just because you need to chill the stock overnight. Day 1 only takes minutes.

Day 1: Bought a ham hock, gave it a wash and placed it in a stockpot with enough water to cover. If you’re not in the habit of buying ham hocks, they’re the revolting things with the brown skin in the Deli section of your supermarket. The ugly exterior, as with many people, conceals an interior of sublime smoky deliciousness, thus deterring more timid eaters from getting any.

I simmered this for about three hours until the meat was falling off the bone. (Obviously, this isn’t much work because you can get on with other stuff in the meantime.) The amount of water? just enough to cover the hock. Add a splash from time to time for the evaporation.

Then I removed the cooked ham hock and used a knife and tongs to get all the yucky bits off – fat, gristle, and that skin, which just peels off. Ewwwww. I left the cleaned-up result in an airtight container in the fridge, along with the stock in a separate container. That part took all of about 10 minutes.

Day 2: All the fat in the chilled refrigerated stock had, of course, solidified and risen to the top, so it could easily be lifted off with an egg lifter (what’s the proper term for those things?) The stock underneath had turned into a jelly, meaning, I think, that it was full of protein. (Nutritionists please weigh in if I’m wrong.) With that done, I got a large, thick bottomed saucepan, and

*Sauteed some finely chopped onion and celery in a generous blob of butter
*(As onions became transparent) added 2 generous cups of Arborio rice
*Sauteed the ricey mixture, keeping it moving, for 5 minutes or so
*Tipped in a cup of white wine (a Mosssac, actually, an embarassing item you
can buy from the local bottleshop)

Then started adding the stock.

Oh, and some garlic along the way – I don’t cook it with the onion because overcooked garlic is an abomination.

Added stock, stirred,scraped, added stock, stirred,scraped. (Remember it’s from the ham hock, so no salt.)

When the rice still hadn’t quite cooked I added a large amount of chopped flat parsley.

When the rice was just about nearly ready, I added the ham which I’d stripped from the bone with a sharp knife and chopped into bite-sized pieces, and more parsley. Too much is barely enough.

It was just like the real deal, for about $12 worth of ingredients for a family of four, with a bit of parmesan and cracked pepper on top. It just goes to show how those restaurants make their profits.

Unfortunately there’s no picture. It looked more delicious than this, which is a random photo I found on the web.

Imagine this has more dark green bits and delicious porky bits.

Comments (0)

  • Zoe says:

    I think it’s the gelatine, rather than protein, which jellies the stock.

    But yum. Will make it soon.

  • JahTeh says:

    Thanks Helen, this is the third blog I’ve been to that featured food. No wonder I can’t lose weight. Rodney Croome’s blog had a post on his discovery of a new canberry and mango cheesecake in Hobart and I’ve been drooling ever since. Shewhoeats blog had a mexican feast and margaritas.
    I’m either following food or it’s finding me.

  • Helen says:

    Many bloggers I like to read have occasional foody posts- Twisty faster is one, Gummo’s another. I don’t think this is a bad recipe to eat in moderation, although it’s certainly a bit high in salt because of the ham.

    Have you seen the “hungry tiger” link on my blogroll? That’s mostly really healthy stuff, but described and enjoyed with much lurve, nothing puritanical about it.

  • tigtog says:

    Helen, you’re another ham hock fan! I just made some pea and ham soup with a bacon hock – yum. And I’d blogged about it yesterday as well. Great minds think alike?

  • alphabitch says:

    That sounds absolutely yummy. It would never have occurred to me to put the lowly ham hock into such a dish, but I can see where it might be just the thing. I too love bean or pea soups with ham hocks. Not sure why that kind of soup has come to mean everyday food and risotto = company food, but there you have it. It’s not like risotto is that difficult to make, as your recipe shows. I’ve even made it in the pressure cooker, which is really easy, as you add all the liquid at once and you don’t have to keep stirring it.

    I also use the pressure cooker to make tasty vegetable stock out of the leftover odds & ends of vegetables & peelings that I stash in the freezer until I have enough to fill the cooker – just cover with water, add a few peppercorns, a bay leaf or two, maybe even a dried red pepper, and toss in anything from the fridge that’s about to go bad (I’ve even included corncobs after the kernels have been cut off and a bunch of the really tender inner cornhusks — adds a delightful sweetness to the whole thing), then bring it up to pressure and cook for ten minutes or so and it tastes like it’s been cooked forever. Zero fat to skim off, way cheap (it’s all stuff I would otherwise have tossed out, and you don’t have to use energy to cook it for hours), and very fast. You could toss meat scraps in there too, if you were so inclined.

    Also, I’m totally with you on the overcooked garlic. Yuck.

  • Helen says:

    That’s what appealed to me too, the way it was something I would never have thought of, but at the same time so obvious and right. That’s what makes cooking interesting sometimes.

  • Vest says:

    Trying once more. Please take a look at, savebabe.com Thanks.

  • Helen says:

    Vest, I replied on the other thread

  • Vest says:

    Yes I did read it, sorry for the stuff up. BTW we are having Ham for lunch, ‘Sorry little Piggies’.

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