Saturday, March 1, 2014

A Smoked Ham Shank in Sauerkraut

I saw a group of smoked ham shanks (these were from the pigs' shins in this case) sitting there at Wegman's a few weeks back while I was more or less suicidally depressed and having gut troubles -- which one was contributing to the other I still haven't fathomed out, but both have thankfully passed -- and began to get mildly interested. I figured: ham shanks, ham hocks, ox tails. You use them to make a good meaty-tasting soup or stew without paying a lot of money*. So I bought a pair, 2.87lb at $2.99/lb.

One I boiled away in a dutch oven with onions, some potatoes, and threw in cabbage wedges towards the end, similar to how I do a corned beef. Small meat returns, but nice.

Last night I took the other one intending to do a bean stew thing with cannelini beans, and later checked in with The Joy of Cooking and found their recipe for Ham Hocks with Sauerkraut calling for smoked hocks and got to thinking. I had a quart of self-fermented sauerkraut in the fridge. The recipe calls for celery seeds and the kraut is full of them plus garlic and parsnips. Also the recipe's first line is:
"A tasty dish rather heavy in fat."
All doubts dispelled. I reduced the recipe, and started sauteeing (rather than boiling) half an onion in a 3qt pot -- IN DUCK FAT! Yes. I didn't see much fat on these shanks. I added about four garlic cloves towards the end of the onion browning, and started trying to sear the shank sort of. Before it all burned up I added cold water to about 3/4 cover the shank, and then stirred and let it on a highish simmer, turning every so often for about 2 hours with the lid on. In the last half hour I added about 2 cups of drained awesome sauerkraut and a few random Dutch yellow potatoes and let it simmer/boil for a while.

Nice peasant food for a cold night.
*Though ox tail is stupidly expensive in the US. For something that is constantly covered in shit, it should be far cheaper.

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