Thursday, 28 July 2011

Hock & Roll

Wintery weather (like wot we're having now) calls for the most comforting of all comfort foods. Soup and a Crusty Roll works for me, and there can be no better soup for our traditional chilly Summer months than the humble Ham & Pea variety. Thick as a Bulls Lug, and fashionably Cheap-as-Chips in these days of austerity.

I say cheap, what other meaty treat can you buy for £1.20 which gives enough ham off the the bone to make a cauldron of soup and enough spare for a sandwich or two. The lovely ladies at Sherwins Cheese Stall in Leicesters Indoor Market supplied the Hock. Just try buying one of these bargains in your local supermarket. As for the recipe, Cooking In Cider by novelist Norah C James provided the inspiration, with Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall supplying a more practical modern 'River Pottage' alternative that doesn't involve the liberal use of Frankfurters!

Soak a Ham Hock overnight in a bowl of water. Also soak 300g of Split Peas or Red Lentils in water for at least a couple of hours prior to cooking.

Place the drained Ham Hock in a pan just big enough to comfortably contain it. Cover with half a pint of Dry Cider (I used a bottle of our 2009 Rockingham Forest Cider), and enough water to barely cover the Hock. Add a chopped Carrot, Onion and Celery stalk, plus a sprig of Thyme and a couple of Bay Leaves. Bring to the boil and simmer for an hour or so.

Leave to cool a little, then skim any excess fat from the surface. Spend a happy 10 minutes picking the surprisingly generous quantity of meat from the Hock. Strain the stock and discard the vegetables. Add the drained peas/lentils, a couple of finely chopped Carrots and Celery stalks, and a couple of medium Onions to the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about an hour before blitzing to a soupy consistency. Add as much chopped Ham as you like, and adjust the seasoning if necessary (the Hock may have been salty enough). I like to add a tablespoon or so of Oxford Sauce, or a good dash of Worcestershire Sauce to finish.

I haven't included a photo of the finished soup. It's soup after all, and I think we all know what soup looks like...

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