Recipes for Smoked Ham Hocks

Smoked Ham Hock and Hominy Stew

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Heat oil in Dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons corn oil, 1 large onion (chopped), 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon dried red crushed pepper or cayenne and sauté for 5 minutes. After sautéing, you can transfer ingredients to a crock pot if you have one, and finish the dish in the crock pot, or you can finish it on the stove.

Add a 1½–2 pound smoked ham hock, 2 14½-ounce cans of chicken broth (low-salt), 1 14½-ounce can tomatoes (diced, sliced, or whole), and 3 large garlic cloves(finely chopped) to pot and simmer until meat falls off the bone, about 2 hours. Remove hock from the pot, allow to cool, and then using your hands remove meat and shred into bite size pieces. Discard fat and bone. Return meat to pot.

Add 2 15-ounce cans of hominy (drained) to pot and simmer until hominy is hot, about 15 minutes. Taste first (canned broth and hocks already contain salt!) and then season with salt and pepper if needed, ladle into bowls, and serve.

Always better if prepared the day before and reheated! Good with cornbread or quesadillas.

Mrs. Schreiner’s Split Pea Soup

Adapted from Gourmet, 1995. This version of classic pea soup is the best we have ever tried. “Do not omit the bacon fat; it is the secret ingredient.” Note: Instead of cooking bacon slices for this recipe, it is much easier and more economical to save bacon grease in a can in your fridge. Scoop out a few tablespoons to use in this recipe and eliminate the first step. It keeps almost forever and makes everything taste better. Use for frying eggs, sautéing greens, cooking chicken, etc.

In a large heavy pot cook 8 slices bacon (about ½ pound) over moderate heat until crisp. Remove and transfer to paper towels to drain. Pour off all but about ¼ cup fat and save in your fridge for other cooking.

Add ½ onion (chopped) and 2 carrots (cut into ¼” dice) to bacon grease in pot and cook until softened. If you have a crock pot, you can transfer ingredients to the crock pot at this point and continue preparing recipe in the crock pot. Add 1 pound dried split peas (rinsed well), 2 quarts water (adding more if necessary), 1 1½–2 lb. smoked ham hock, and 1 bay leaf and simmer until meat falls off bone, about 1 ½ or 2 hours. Add water if soup gets too thick. Remove hock from the pot, allow to cool, and using your hands remove meat and shred into bite size pieces. Discard fat and bone. Return meat to pot.

Discard bay leaf. Taste soup and add salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve. If you have not already eaten the bacon, crumble a piece on top of each serving.