The hock is one of the cuts of pork I often have no idea what to do with. As a result, I often end up throwing it in as part of my pork stock or it ends up being cured and smoked for pea and ham soup.
It’s such a meaty cut! When we are having a spit pig the best part of the day is towards the end when it’s been cooking all day and the hocks just happen to fall off. The only way to save them is by eating them right away! 🙂
The crackling is a bit different though. It’s not as puffy as what you would normally get, it’s more of a thin crisp crackling and sometimes it doesn’t crackle at all but it’s still tasty! The fat in the hock has a tacky feeling, it sticks to your mouth and the meat is sweet and juicy.
But why am I waiting for a spit pig to eat the hock when I have a freezer full of them?! So, today’s food experiment is an Asian style slow cooked pork hock. A single pork hock should be enough for two people but honestly if it was just me and no one was watching I’d probably eat the whole thing. I have a problem! I know!
What I’m trying to do with this is recreate my spit pig meat falling of the bone pork hock without having to set up the spit for my single pork hock. I’ve set up my slow cooker instead. I didn’t have a rack small enough to fit so I’ve improvised with vegetables (carrot, celery, onion). I am a big fan of pork crackling so the day before the hock went into the slow cooker I slashed the skin with a Stanley knife and poured boiling hot water all over the skin, patted it dry and then rubbed in a liberal amount of salt. I’ve covered it with some paper towel and left it in the fridge overnight to dry out some more.
What makes this ‘Asian Style’ is that I coated the hock in olive oil and Chinese five spice before I put it into the slow cooker. It’s what I would normally do with pork belly minus the soy sauce and Chinese rice wine and sesame oil. Of course as I type this I’m thinking I probably should have coated the hock with all those things anyway. Next time!
Our slow cooker often saves me during the week when I know we’re going to have a busy day and no one is going to want to cook dinner. I can throw everything in and be fairly confident that it’ll all turn out alright. There have been times when the results have started to look a bit iffy half way through the day. Case in point being the first time I did a slow cooked pork shoulder. I put it on before I went to work at 6:30am and by the time I came home at 5:30pm Neil was preparing to call out for pizza. The skin had been salted and oiled before going into the slow cooker and by the time I got home the skin was looking distinctly unappetising. But I was determined to see it through to the end. I cranked the oven to the highest heat and let it come up to temperature and wacked my pork shoulder in (transferred carefully to an oven safe dish as the meat was falling apart). A half hour later and I had the best looking pork roast I’ve ever made in my life. So, if I follow the general idea of slow cooked pork shoulder and transfer that to my pork hock it should all work out right? Fingers crossed!
The hock went in about 9:30am and came out about 5:30pm. You can see from the photos above the meat shrinks back a fair bit and the skin looks gelatinous. When I do a bigger cut of meat I don’t normally add any fluid to the bottom of the slow cooker but I think next time with the hocks I might add a little pork stock, half a cup maybe.
About a half hour before I was ready to take the hock out of the slow cooker I cranked the oven as high as it would go. This was going to be different for everyone mostly because my oven right now is at the end of its useable life and it’s temperamental at best. But! Oven as high as it’ll go but probably 220C. Let it get up to temperature and transfer the hock to an oven safe dish and put it in the oven for about a half hour. You can see from my picture that I didn’t get bubbling crackling all over like I had hoped and you can also see that there is a bit missing from the top corner because Neil managed to snag proper crackled crackling before I could take a picture. The skin is crisp though and it’s super tasty. The meat pulls apart easily and is more of a dark colour, almost like chicken thigh type dark meat.
Things I would change for next time:
- Do more than one hock (who’s crazy idea was it to just make one hock for a bunch of Athertons? Crazy!)
- Drying out overnight put it on a rack and let the air flow right around the whole hock
- Add some fluid to the slow cooker that way you have some type of gravy. Gravy makes everything better!