This post is part of a series celebrating diversity and bounty in the kitchen during the month of November. I’ll be posting a new recipe every day for 30 days. Subscribe to receive email updates on the project in the sidebar on the post page here, or follow along on Instagram at @dianaprichard and the #Feast30 hashtag.
Pork knuckles, or ham hocks as they’re more widely known on this side of the pond, aren’t given enough credit. They’re meatier and more flavorful than they look, and one of my favorite cuts for making soups and stews.
This recipe makes a big pot of soup, but that’s okay, because it’s even better on day two. I actually made it late last week, dumped it into gallon-sized ziplocs and took it with us last weekend for a quick, easy in-room meal at the hotel. It was warm, hearty and filling — perfect for the cold outside — but not too heavy, which we appreciated when we jumped back in the pool and on the waterslides minutes after eating.
A note on the recipe: you could skip the step of boiling the beans — I did — but I’ve added it here as a warning. Some beans are known to cause digestive upset if you don’t bring them to a boil for at least a short while during the cooking process. As I understand it, Kidney Beans are the worst offenders for this and I’ve cooked those countless times in the crock pot without issue, but you should know what you’re possibly getting into should you decide to skip the boil and go straight to the simmer. Either way, enjoy!
- 1 Ham Hock or Knuckle
- 1 lb Dry Cannellini Beans; rinsed, soaked overnight and drained
- 3 quarts Water (approximate)
- 6-8 stems of fresh Thyme
- 4-6 leaves of fresh Sage
- 2 dried Bay Leaves
- large three-finger pinch Coarse Sea Salt
- 2 pats Unsalted Butter
- 1 medium Onion, finely diced
- 4 stalks Celery, chopped in ½ inch pieces
- 3 medium Carrots, chopped in ½ inch thick half moons
- 2 large Garlic Cloves, smashed
- ½ cup White Wine
- 2 cups Baby Spinach
- Put ham hock in a large crockpot and set aside.
- In a medium stockpot combine beans and water, bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes.
- Pour beans and water over ham hock; add thyme, sage and bay leaves. Set to low and allow to simmer 6-8 hours until beans are done and meat pulls apart easily.
- Scoop beans and hock out of broth. Set beans aside, pull the meat from the hock and set aside with the beans.
- Strain broth through cheesecloth or fine sieve and set aside in a large jar or other easy-pour container.
- Melt butter in the bottom of a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrots and garlic to butter, stir frequently until onions begin to caramelize and carrots begin to soften. Deglaze pan with white wine.
- Add beans and shredded pork to the pan, stirring to combine. Pour in strained broth, reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer until carrots are perfectly done. Add spinach just before serving and stir in well to wilt.