Tags: posh restaurant

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.