‘Flour, water, salt… time?’
While my kitchen has had an abundance the first three of the ingredients of bread, the fourth has been in rather short supply for some time. So, while the baking has continued, the blogging has not. Coming to the end of very rare day of freedom, the thought occurs to me that today’s dinner might be worth a quick post, if for no other reason than to prove my continued survival.
This one’s a little different to any of my other recipes, as not only does it not contain flour, there’s not even any salt. This is a favourite dinner in our house, as it elicits nostalgic memories of hard-pressed grandparents in the adults, while the kids just enjoy anything they can shove into their mouths at speed.
As well as being delicious, this meal is ultra-economical, feeding 8-10 people from one pot for around €1 / $1 a head. I usually make this quantity, and whatever isn’t eaten the first evening is refridgerated and polished off over the course of the following few days.
Hocks, for those that aren’t familiar with the lesser-known parts of the pig, are the ankles and calves of the pig. They contain quite a lot of fat and sinew, which render down to produce far more moist and tender meat than most other cuts of ham. My mother would head a little further south on the poor porker given the choice, being a fan of ‘crubeens’; pig’s feet to you and I.
I buy my hocks at O’Dwyer’s butchers in Cashel, Co. Tipperary, where they’re a snip at €2.50 each.
For the stock:
2 ham hocks
1 celery stick
1 large onion
1 large carrot
3 bay leaves
6 black peppercorns
Place all the stock ingredients in a large saucepan with around 2 L of cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer, covered, for around 3 hours. Remove the hocks and leave to cool, strain the liquid and use in the steps below. Discard the stock vegetables.
For the stew:
1 large onion
2 celery sticks
1.2 L ham stock (above)
800 ml water
1 tsp dried / 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp dried sage
2 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
180g dried green lentils
200g curly kale, rinsed and chopped
- Fry the chopped onion, celery, and carrot in a little olive or rapeseed oil for 5 minutes, or until the onion and celery soften
- Add the stock, water, potatoes, and herbs; bring to the boil, cover, and simmer gently for around 30 minutes
- Rinse the lentils under running water; add to the pot and continue to simmer for around 1 hour
- Using bare hands or a knife (if you’re squeamish), strip the fat and sinew from the cooled hocks and flake the meat into bite-sized morsels
- Add the ham and kale to the pot and cover for a final 10-15 minute simmer
- Serve in bowls- ensure it is dark, raining, and windy outside for maximum enjoyment
I don’t hold with the whole ‘superfood’ bullshit so beloved by ‘Doctors’ of Nutrition, but eating kale does just feel good, and it is full of vitamins and minerals. This is a cracking winter stew, and I encourage everyone to give it a go. Unlike crubeens….