Pork hocks are one of the most flavorful cuts. The hocks are the lower part of the legs, above the trotters. When buying a whole pig you will receive four hocks, and they are often whole with skin on, or sliced width wise (skin on or skin off). Some customers choose to have the hocks ground, or let them sit in their freeze for ever because they are not sure how to prepare them. This is a shame because the hocks are one of the most delicious cuts. Much like shanks in pastured lamb, pork hocks may be tough if cooked overly hot and fast. This toughness is because pastured animals actually use their legs for walking from place to place, unlike pork from CAFOs, however this is aldo what goves pastured hocks such a lovely flavor. Cooking hocks with liquid helps tenderize the meat and allows the flavor full rein to knock your socks off.
To make Beer Braised Pork Hocks a la Emancipation Acres you will need the following ingredients.
High heat cooking oil, I used sesame but any oil that can handle a high heat will do
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, minced very fine
2 pork hocks, whole or sliced width wise
2 white onions, cut into rounds
4 potatoes, cut into rounds
1 large squash, I used a lemon squash but any squash should be fine. If you use a squash like lemon with large seeds in the center, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, then cut into slices. Squash like yellow squash can be cut into rounds
2 apples, cored and quartered
2 cups dark beer, I used Capitol Amber
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place the salt in a large bowl and rub the mixture on the pork hocks. If skin on pork hocks are being used score the skin with a knife and rub the mixture into the scores. A blend of spices could be added at this point as well, I didn’t however as I like the flavor of the pork to be the center of attention.
Grease the roasting pan with the high heat oil. Make sure a high heat oil is used.
Peel the white onions and slice them into rounds. Place them evenly in the bottom of the roasting pan in an even layer. Place the hocks on top of the layer of onions and cook covered at 425 degrees F for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes take the baking pan out of the oven and place the quartered apples, sliced potatos and squash in an even layer around the hocks. Pour 1 cup of the beer over the hocks and cook for one hour at 325 degrees F.
The FDA recently lowered the safe temperature for pork from 160 degrees F to 140 degrees F. After an hour check the temperature of the hocks, and stir the veggies. I used sliced hocks and they were at 140 degrees F after an hour. If you are using skin on whole hocks they will likely take longer.
When the hocks are nearly done (130 degrees F or so, baste the hocks with the remaining cup of beer. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees F and heat covered for another ten minutes.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven and check that the hock temperature reads between 140-160 degrees F in the center of the meat.
If sliced hocks were used they can be placed on a plate with the veggies on the side. If whole hocks were used they can be carved on a cutting board, or just go wild with a knife and fork on your own plate.
Don’t be afraid to chew the meat off the bones, that’s half the fun!
Alternatively: after I made this I realized it would taste really good on top of rice, which would also be a good way to stretch the recipe to feed more people.