This weekend has been pretty busy doing other stuff, with little time left for cooking. Given we are going through an unusually short winter, with high temps, bears waking up from their winter sleep and creepy predictions about desertification of Southern Europe in a few years, I guess it was time for some winter food before flowers start blooming and the Sunday posts turns into some mangos and papayas recipe book. What’s best than a good German-reminiscent pork hock properly roasted from a winter food perspective? This is far from the proper Bavarian recipe, but it tastes great nevertheless, and it’s really easy to do, with just a few tricks to remember.
I start off finely mincing some flavours: rosemary and garlic are absolutely compulsory, but the extra kick I love to add to pork is ginger: it might not be that traditional, but it really add that je ne sais quoi that makes the difference. Add some salt and pepper, pierce a few holes into the meat (which, of course, has been taken from the fridge no less than an hour before starting off), and start rubbing it vigorously. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, and grab a pan large enough to comfortably sit the hock. Heat a spoonful of oil and drop the meat into the pan, letting it seal all over (I’ll say it again: all over means throughout the meat, which has no less than six sides. Sealing just two or four makes the flavour find other ways to escape). When the meat is slightly roasted, add a good glass of dry white wine, beware the flame and let the alcohol vaporize. Throw everything into a roasting pan and cover it, either with tin foil or (even better) with wax paper soaked in water: you need this to let the steam help the cooking process.
After 15 minutes, it’s time to deal with roasted potatoes. Get a pot with some salted water on the stove. Cut a few potatoes in small chunks and, when the water is boiling, throw them in. Let them boil for five minutes and drain the water: this will soften your potatoes and make the beast roasted spuds money can buy. The whole operation will take almost 30 minutes, if you’re faster slow everything down, as you need to add potatoes to the roasting pan exactly 45 minutes after the hock gets into the oven. Take the roasting pan out, and quickly add the potatoes, mixing them with the sauce lying in the bottom of the pan. If there isn’t enough sauce, feel free to add some hot stock. If you’ve been using wax paper, soak it again in water before covering the pan again. Throw everything back into the oven, and let it cook for another 30 minutes. Take the tin foil/wax paper cover off, and finish up cooking with another 15-20 minutes.
Take the pork hock out of the oven, and wrap it in tin foil for no less than ten minutes before serving: this way the meat juices will flow back where they belong, making the dish taste even better. Serve on hot plates, as it takes a while to carve the hefty piece of meat, and you don’t want to eat cold stuff. If you feel more German than me, apple sauce and sauerkraut are a perfect match.