In the past few years I have been more and more intrigued with nose to tail eating and finding different ways to use more of the animals that I kill and buy. For instance this last year I made a fantastic pate with a venison liver. I have spent a good amount of time working with pork bellies and cheeks and ears and feet and on and on. I like being able to use these parts because it adds variety and has exposed me to some interesting things. So this year when my friend Wes called and asked if I wanted to split a hog I said yes of course I would but when you order ask them what they do with some of the other parts. As I suspected the small farmer that he gets his pigs from just throws out all of the offal because usually people don't want it. so he through in the liver, spleen, heart, tongue and ears for free but also smoked all the hocks and added those to my half of the pig.
So now I have about a dozen smoked hocks and wanted to try something with them other than split pea soup. So I thought why not braise them and serve them up with lentils. This was pretty easy to do and although the process takes about 3 1/2 hours the majority of that time is cooking time and doesn't require anything from you except to drink some beers and watch the football game. I put the four hocks in an enamelled cast iron pot and braised them for about three hours. The end result was exactly what I had imagined it would be, tender bits of smoky pork with a slight sweetness from the braising liquid. What I didn't expect was how much meat was on the hocks. After my wife and I ate we had plenty of meat left over, the braising liquid had continued to reduce on the stove so I thought why not put the meat in a loaf pan pour over the rest of the liquid and see if it will set into a terrine of sorts.
The next morning when I came downstairs and looked into the fridge I as amazed that it worked. I had a beautiful little terrine of smoked pork hocks, onions and garlic. I immediately had to slice off a piece to see what it tasted like and again was surprised at how flavorful it had become. The braising liquid reduced down into a sweet and salty aspic of sorts and the pork from the hocks was just as good cold as it was hot. I had completely by accident made a terrine and was so thrilled that I had to do some research on what other terrines could be made in a similar fashion. So for my next adventure I am going to try Fromage De Tete or headcheese as most people might know it. I am sure my wife won't be trying any of it but I feel like I have to try it now and once I get and idea in my head it just eats at me until I try it.
Braised Pork Hocks
4 smoked hocks
8 oz pork stock
8 oz apple juice
2 oz bourbon
4 oz maple syrup
8 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
half a large red onion thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sriracha
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
and enough water to cover the hocks
bring to a boil then lower heat to a simmer and leave for three hours.
If you want to make the terrine reduce the liquid for an additional half hour then pick the meat off the bones and place in a loaf pan lined with clear plastic wrap, then pour the liquid or it and chill in the fridge over night. Slice it and serve with pickle veggies of some sort I use pickled fennel and some bread.