Ham hocks are a cut of pork that comes from the ham, or hind leg, of a pig. They can be smoked, cured, or fresh, and are often used to add flavor to soups, stews, and beans.
Ham hocks are generally inexpensive and can be found at most grocery stores. When choosing ham hocks, look for those that are meaty with a good amount of fat. Avoid ham hocks that are too lean, as they will be tough and difficult to cook.
Fresh ham hocks should be refrigerated and used within a few days, while smoked and cured ham hocks will last for several weeks.
What are ham hocks used for?
Ham hocks are an essential ingredient or seasoning agent for soul food cooking. Many Southern recipes especially side dishes involving beans (black-eyed peas, green beans, navy beans) or greens (collard greens, mustard greens, or turnip greens) call for smoked ham hocks.
Can you eat the meat from ham hocks?
However, in some places, you can buy fresh ham hocks and cook them as the main dish.
I also like to carve the thick meat away from the bone and use the meat as a topping for Cast-iron Skillet Nachos. Similarly, you can puree them in a food processor and use them to season Brazilian Collard Greens which is a favorite recipe of mine and a popular one on the site. I also take a similar approach when making Smothered Green Beans
Where can you buy ham hocks?
Ham hocks used to be a hood only phenomenon, but now they are readily available in most mainstream grocery stores at least in the South. Up North you may have to go to a more ethnic market. Many Eastern European, German, and Black neighborhoods are likely to have the smoked versions. Outside of specialty places, local butchers should be able to hook you up.