Smoked Ham Hock Sous-Vide

Ham hocks (pork shanks) are an inexpensive cut of meat. They can be turned into something delicious by first hot smoking them and then cooking them sous-vide. This is a technique I’ve used before on ham of lamb and brisket, and I wanted to try it on a ham hock. It was absolutely delicious. A light smoky flavor, tender and juicy. Many recipes call for brining the ham hock first, but there does not seem to be a reason to do this for this preparation. The sous-vide cooking allows the smoky flavors to penetrate all the way to the core of the meat and will turn the meat completely tender without drying it out.

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In Germany ham hocks are called Eisbein and are served with sauerkraut (Sauerkraut mit Eisbein). I served my smoked ham hock with a sauerkraut and potato mash, and some homemade spicy ketchup. I had picked up some mesquite wood chips to try them for hot smoking instead of my usual beech sawdust. I did not notice any difference (except for the price tag), so perhaps I should do a side-by-side some time to make sure.

Ingredients

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For 1-2 servings

1 ham hock

2 Tbsp smoking dust or chips

salt and freshly ground black pepper

sauerkraut, mashed potatoes and ketchup to serve

Preparation

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Season the ham hock with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Put the smoking chips in a stovetop smoker and heat up until smoke starts to appear.

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Cover the smoking dust with a dripping tray and arrange the ham hock on a rack.

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Close the stovetop smoker and smoke for 15 minutes.

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The ham hock will already look and smell great, but it will still be completely raw inside.

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Allow to cool to room temperature.

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Vacuum seal.

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Cook sous-vide for 72 hours (!) at 57ºC/135ºF. An interesting phenomenon is that although the pouches used for sous-vide cooking are airtight and waterproof, some of the smoke can somehow ‘leak’ through into the sous-vide cooker. This is not a problem, as long as you do not cook something else alongside it (I tried and rather than a nice smoky flavor it will impart a bitter taste — apparently if the smoke can escape from the pouch with the smoked meat, it can also enter another pouch) and if you discard the smoky water afterwards.

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Serve with mashed potatoes and sauerkraut as well as some ketchup, preferably spicy and of course homemade.

Flashback


Some of my photos from two years ago make me cringe, and this is one of them. I can guarantee you though that the flavor of this flourless chocolate cake won’t make you cringe! The ingredients? Chocolate, butter, eggs, and sugar. That’s right, it’s not just called flourless but it actually is.

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9 thoughts on “Smoked Ham Hock Sous-Vide

  1. I like the idea of re-inforcing the smoky flavor of an inexpensive meat – and also making it tender. The potato and sauerkraut pairing sounds delicious. I am definitely a sauerkraut fan. Here, it is usually served on sausages, with German mustard, enveloped in soft, brioche type bun. Happy cooking, Stefan! Shanna

  2. Pingback: Carne Adovada Sous-Vide | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

  3. Great recipe! Thanks for sharing. The “leaking” of the vaccum pouches works the other way round, too. Some days ago, I cooked potatoes sous vide. I used a large and heavy Le Creuset pot for this purpose, since I needed my sous vide machine for a piece of lamb. I often use the Le Creuset pot for smoking. Even after days you can still smell the lovely flavor. To my surprise, the smoky flavor leaked through the vaccum bag and into the potatoes. Not exactly what I wanted, but funny anyhow.

    • Hi Mike, thanks for your message. I’ve had a similar experience and even ruined a dish that way as the smoke from one pouch leaked out of it into the sous-vide water and then into another pouch that was not supposed to be smoked. It actually turned out bitter.

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