College Bowl Series National Championship game on deck, only appetizers on the menu so need something more substantial, these smoked ham hock nachos will do the trick!
This recipe ain’t really for the faint of heart. I typically allow myself a cheat day, but this may require a cheat weekend! It is sooo good though and seems so appropriate for the occasion. You got overhyped NFL playoffs and College Football Championship games which make perfect excuses for all out gluttony.
All kidding aside, I was prepared to make vegan nachos, but deez ham hocks caught my heart for the evening while cruising the grocery store aisle. No hesitation, I knew I had to find a way to get them on my gameday menu. I figured I could find a fun way to use them, hence you end up reading a post about smoked ham hock nachos. If you grew up in and around Texas or are friends with any, then you know any true Texan always have ingredients to make some version of nachos on hand. I will admit that our plant-based proclivities make it much less probable to have cheese on hand. And it ain’t like the old days (at least my hood ain’t) when your mom or grandma would send you next door to the neighbors to borrow some sugar, milk, etc. My kids would freak out in embarrassment if I sent them to our neighbors.
Smoked Ham Hock Nachos, But What Are Ham Hocks?
Given the weather situation, I checked in on a few of my East Coast friends. After confirming they were safe, the conversation turned to what I’d be cooking for the big football game. I mentioned smoked ham hock nachos and got responses that ranged from the polite “that’s interesting, but what are ham hocks” to the straight-up “what da f&^k are ham hocks!” For those not in the know, ham hocks are essentially the ankles of a pig. Hocks don’t have much fat, but because there is so much collagen in that area the meat becomes very tender during cooking as the collagen is broken down. It’s mostly skin though, which makes for good pork “cracklin” or “rinds”. Hocks are sold in most Southern markets/grocery stores already smoked and used to flavor soups and vegetables like collard greens. You also find them in Asian markets and in German towns.
Smoked Ham Hock Nachos, Key Tips
Hocks because they are smoked are essentially already cooked so you technically do not need to cook them before adding them baking them as part of the nachos. However, my preference is to give them a quick simmer in the skillet before assembling the nachos for baking. Since nachos require a short cook time, a pre-simmer is good for releasing some of that rich smokey flavor from the hocks. You are basically priming it for the nachos. Another trick I like to employ is cooking the nachos in two stages. I made one layer and then cooked it for about 10 minutes, then added a second layer and cooked for another 10 miutes. This ensures all the cheese including the cheese on the bottom layer melts fully. Lastly ham hocks tend to be a little salty, so be mindful of the type of cheese you use so that you can monitor salt intake. Monterrey Jack tends to be one of your lower in salt cheeses and is also a good melting cheese.
Dope beats, fresh eats. Enjoy these smoked ham hock nachos!
Smoked Ham Hock Nachos
- 1 Standard Size Bag Of Tortilla Chips
- 1 bag of Monterrey Jack or Colby Jack cheese
- 1 smoked ham hock
- 1 cup Black beans
- 2 fresh jalapenos sliced
- 1 avocado half
- 1 cup fresh cilantro chopped
- 1/4 red onions chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare ham hocks - cut away meaty part with a sharp knife. Then cut-off the thick layer of skin (discard). Cut the meat into small to medium chunks
Quickly sear hocks on medium-high heat in a greased skillet (1-2 minutes). Remove and pat dry.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or foil.
Spread half the chips over cookie sheet. Layer half the hocks, jalapenos, black beans, and onions on top of the chips. Top with half the cheese.
Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from oven and add another layer of chips, ham hocks, jalapenos, beans, onions and cheese and repeat in oven
Remove and top with avocado, cilantro and your choice of salsa.