If there is one thing I enjoy researching, it is various cooking tips and information. Lately, I have been wanting to learn more about various meats to use for my meals, so I decided to research ham hock and pork hock because they are two of my favorite meat products.
Did you know that ham hock is used to add flavor to various dishes?
According to The Pioneer Woman,
This unassuming piece of pork is super important in soups that traditionally need a little extra flavor, like pea or bean soups, or in dishes like slow-cooked greens or beans.
One fact about pork hock is that it has more uses to it than the ham hock. However, you are going to discover that both pieces can be an important part of a meal.
There is a lot of information on these two products, and the wide range of information has inspired me to create a Ham Hock vs Pork Hock guide. After all, you need to find out the similarities and differences if you plan to cook with these meat products.
While I have been cooking with ham hock and pork hocks for years, I only recently discovered that these pieces of meat are not the same thing.
Y’all, my invitation to cookouts may be revoked! I was told to pick up ham hock at the supermarket and came back with pork hock (not the same). My Black brothers and sisters, how can I repair?! 😭😭😭 pic.twitter.com/fzvigbheCj
— Danny Hernández (@dannyhrb) November 24, 2020
Well, that is good to know for my next dinner party.
Luckily, my dinner parties have been successful so far, but I would still rather ensure I serve my preferred type of meat.
To keep others from mixing up these meat products, I have decided to do additional research to ensure my guide is accurate and useful. My research consisted of various cooking forums, websites and videos.
As you read through my guide, you can find:
The similarities and differences of ham hock and pork hock.
How to cook pork and ham hock.
What you can use to substitute the ham hock.
The length of cook time for each piece of meat.
Several recipe ideas to try in your own kitchen.
Now that I have rambled about these tasty pieces of meat, I want to share my guide on pork and ham hocks.
Ham Hock vs Pork Hock: My Guide to These Tasty Pieces of Meat
It is always okay to ask questions about food and cooking methods, and you may have several questions about ham hock vs pork hock. My goal is to provide a guide that goes beyond answering a few simple questions.
- 1. What Is Ham Hock? →
- 2. What Is Pork Hock? →
- 3. Differences Between Ham Hock and Pork Hock →
- 4. Similarities Between Ham Hock and Pork Hock →
- 5. How To Cook Ham Hock? →
- 5.1. Boiled Ham Hock →
- 5.2. Roasted Ham Hock →
- 5.3. Smoked Ham Hock →
- 5.4. Ham Hocks In A Crockpot →
- 5.5. Ham And Pea Soup →
- 6. How To Cook Pork Hock? →
- 7. Can I Substitute Pork Hock For Ham Hock? →
- 8. Can I Substitute Bacon For Ham Hocks? →
- 9. Do I Need To Remove The Skin Before Cooking? →
- 10. How Should I Store Ham Hocks and Pork Hocks? →
- 11. How Long Does It Take To Cook Ham Hocks and Pork Hocks? →
- 12. What Are Some Popular Ham Hock Dishes? →
- 13. What Are Some Popular Pork Hock Dishes? →
- 14. Useful Resources →
- 15. Ham Hock and Pork Hock: The Better Type of Meat Depends On Your Preference →
What Is Ham Hock?
Ham hock is also known as the pork knuckle. It is made of the rear ankles of the pig, and it is usually cured or smoked before being placed on the market. This is done to preserve the meat, which is used to add flavor to various dishes.
What Is Pork Hock?
Pork hock is made from the front or rear ankle of the pig, and it does not go through a curing or smoking process before being placed on the market. It does not add any additional flavors to a meal, so it is used as an ingredient in many dishes.
On Mondays… we do pork hock!
It goes by a couple of other names – pork knuckle, ham hock, pork shank, pig knuckle… A cut of pork that’s not quite the ankle, not quite the foot, the bottom bit of the pig leg that’s full of tender flesh & collagen. pic.twitter.com/dzCDVk7oMi
— Butcher Girl Alison (@ButcherGirlAli) December 12, 2021
To quote Anna of CooksDream,
Because pork hocks are raw, they are much more versatile than ham hocks. They can be roasted, braised, and boiled with no threat of overpowering other foods with smokiness.
Differences Between Ham Hock and Pork Hock
When researching ham hock vs pork hock, it is best to learn the differences between these two types of meat.
While both ham hock and pork hock are from the ankle of a pig, they are still from two different spots. The ham hock is from the rear ankle, and the pork hock is from either the front or rear ankle.
As you already know, ham hock goes through a curing or smoking process. Pork hock is not cured or smoked, which makes this a more raw piece of meat.
Similarities Between Ham Hock and Pork Hock
It never hurts to learn the similarities of ham hock and pork hock as well.
Of course, both ham hock and pork hock are pieces of meat from a pig.
Both pieces can come from the rear ankle of the pig. Ham hock is only made from the rear ankle, while pork hock has the option of being made from the front or rear ankle.
In addition, ham hock and pork hock are both great for adding flavor to soups and green dishes.
Another similarity I have discovered while putting together this guide is that both pork hock and ham hock are known as the pork knuckle.
How to Cook Ham Hock?
There are several methods for cooking ham hock, and those methods include boiled, roasted, smoked and in a crockpot.
Boiled Ham Hock
You can boil washed ham hocks in the water, or you can boil the hocks in just broth or equal parts broth and water.
The water should only fill about 3/4 of the pot to keep it from spilling or boiling over.
Roasted Ham Hock
The first step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
While you wait for the oven to heat up, score the skin and fat of your hocks. This allows the hocks to absorb the seasonings.
Speaking of seasonings, the next step is to rub your choice of seasonings on the hocks. It is best to start with two tablespoons and increase the flavor to your preference.
Fill a large roasting pan with water, and place the hocks in the pan with the meatiest part facing down. Keep the layer of skin and fat on top as dry as possible.
If you are adding ingredients such as vegetables or potatoes, add them to the pan now.
Smoked Ham Hock
It does take a little longer to prepare smoked ham hocks, so you want to start preparing and cooking at least a week in advance.
When making smoked hocks, you want to start with a brine to lock in the flavor and moisture. The brine is usually made of water, salt and brown sugar, but you can look up the exact recipe online.
Place the hock in the brine one at a time, and press each piece into the brine until it is completely coated. After you have coated each piece, cover the bowl with a lid.
Refrigerate the hocks for three to seven days to give the pieces time to soak up the brine.
Once it is time for the next step, briefly rinse the hocks under cold water. Lay the hocks on a baking sheet on a rack in the refrigerator to dry for one to 24 hours.
Heat up your smoker to 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and place your ham hocks in the smoker.
Let the hocks smoke until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which takes about two to six hours.
Ham Hocks in a Crockpot
You can also use a crockpot to cook various ham hock meals, such as ham hocks and beans.
Start by placing the hocks into the crockpot with the flat sides facing down.
Pour two cans of white beans on top of the hocks. You are also adding celery, carrots, onion and chicken broth to the crockpot.
Let the meal cook on low for six hours.
Remove the hocks, place them on a cutting board and remove the bones. You also want to slice the meat before placing it back into the pot.
Ham and Pea Soup
Ham and pea soup is another popular meal. In this video, RecipeTin Eats shares a quick recipe for making this soup with ham hocks.
Can you place oven bags in a crockpot? I think this is a good question, and you can explore my guide on this topic by clicking here.
How to Cook Pork Hock?
You can prepare pork hocks using some of the same methods as ham hocks. For example, you can boil the hock for several before serving it. You may need to boil it for longer if you are only using it for flavor.
Smoked pork hock is a more popular cooking method, especially with such a long shelf life.
Pork hock is used as more of an ingredient than a flavor, so the instructions for cooking the hocks will depend on the meal. Some meals include German Pork Hock and Traditional Taiwanese Braised Pork Hock.
If you are looking to bring a bit of Oktoberfest to your kitchen, this is the video for you. My German Recipes shows you how to make a crispy but moist pork hock in this video.
Can I Substitute Pork Hock for Ham Hock?
What do you do if you cannot find ham hocks in stores? The answer is to shop for pork hocks. Yes, you can absolutely substitute pork hock for ham hock.
To quote Patricia S. York of Southern Living,
If you can’t find ham hocks, you can usually successfully substitute a ham bone, smoked bacon, or smoked sausage. And if you are going pork-free, try smoked turkey sausage or bacon.
Can I Substitute Bacon for Ham Hocks?
You can also substitute bacon for ham hocks.
Bacon is a great alternative because it has a similar fatty cut. Of course, you want to use smoked bacon to ensure you have the same flavor as the ham hocks.
Other alternatives include smoked sausage, ham bone and turkey leg. Personally, my first alternative would be pork locks or smoked bacon.
The oven is one of several ways to cook ham and pork hocks. Can you place metal in the oven? I answer this question and more in this article.
Do I Need to Remove the Skin Before Cooking?
The skin is usually left on the ham hock because it adds more flavor to meals such as stew or soup. You can also use the skin to make homemade pork rinds.
However, it is best to score the skin when roasting the ham because it releases the fat and allows the skin to become crisp. All you need to do is slice several lines in the skin.
How Should I Store Ham Hocks and Pork Hocks?
It is easy to store your ham hocks and pork hocks, but you want to ensure you are storing each type of meat properly.
You actually need to refrigerate or freeze both types of meat, which is another thing they have in common.
Despite being smoked, ham hocks can go bad if you leave them sitting out for too long. Ham hocks can be refrigerated for two weeks to two months, and they can be frozen for up to six months.
If you are going to use the pork hocks within the next few days, you can refrigerate them. It is best to freeze the pork hocks if you are not using them for another few months.
Of course, you should always check the best-by or expiration date on the packaging of your meat.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Ham Hocks and Pork Hocks?
You can enjoy a range of meals thanks to ham and pork hocks. Of course, you may be wondering how long it takes to cook each meal.
Me: [Goes home to the country for a holiday]
Me: “Hi Mom, I’m vegan now”
[Mom goes grocery shopping]
Mom: “We got ribs, pork chops, bbq, chitlens, gizzards, ham hock, sausage, bacon, duck….
Me: [fixes a plate of ribs, pork chops, bbq, chitlens, gizzards, ham hock….]
— Cornell Watson (He/Him) (@cornwhizzle) June 12, 2019
The cook time is going to depend on how you are making your ham and pork hocks.
Boiled Hocks: You may need to boil the hocks for two to four hours, but this depends on how much flavor you want for your meal.
Roasted Hocks: The preparation time depends on how long it takes to preheat your oven and add the seasonings. Once the hocks are in the oven, it takes about three to four hours for them to cook.
Smoked Hocks: While the preparation time may vary depending on your brine, you are refrigerating the hocks for three to seven days. The hocks need up to 24 hours to dry, and then they take about two to six hours to cook.
Ham Hocks and Beans: The cook time for ham hocks and beans in a crockpot is about six hours.
German Pork Hock: It takes at least one hour and 45 minutes to prepare and cook this meal.
Traditional Taiwanese Braised Pork Hock: The preparation time for this meal is about 10 minutes, and the cook time for this meal is about 45 minutes.
What Are Some Popular Ham Hock Dishes?
I have found many popular ham hock dishes, including Ham Hocks And Dumplings, Ham and Potato Soup and Braised Ham Hocks.
My favorite recipe is Collard Greens And Ham Hock because I get the best of both worlds. I can enjoy that smoked ham flavor while maintaining my health with collards.
The best part is how easy it is to prepare this dish.
1. Start by adding the ham hock to a pot of boiling water.
2. Let the ham simmer for about an hour, and then add the collard greens to the pot.
3. The ham and collard greens should simmer for about 40 minutes before serving.
What Are Some Popular Pork Hock Dishes?
Once I realized ham and pork hocks are different, I went searching for various pork hock recipes. German Pork Hock, Pork Hock with Braised Greens and Pork Hocks and Sauerkraut all caught my eye because they sound so delicious.
The recipe I recently tried and loved is the Cuban Black Bean Stew, so I want to give you a glimpse of how to prepare this dish.
1. Start by trimming the pork off the bone and cutting it into smaller pieces. You do need to save the bones for this recipe.
2. Coat the bottom of a 10-quart stockpot with olive oil, and then heat the pot over medium-high. If you do not have a stockpot, a soup pot or large saucepan should do the trick.
3. The next step is to stir in the meat, bone and other ingredients.
4. Stir occasionally for eight minutes, or you can stir until the vegetables begin to sizzle. There should be a brown but not black glaze on the bottom of your pot.
I cannot wait to make this stew again on those cool autumn days.
Here is another great pork hock recipe to try in your kitchen. In this video, Glen And Friends Cooking shows you how to cook roast pork hock with the Schweinshaxe recipe.
Are you wondering if you can cook meat in a rice cooker? It may be worth researching to find out if you can place your hocks in the rice cooker, and you can check out my guide on this subject by clicking here.
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Ham Hock and Pork Hock: The Better Type of Meat Depends on Your Preference
When it comes to the topic of ham hock vs pork hock, the better cut of meat is going to depend on your preference.
If you are only looking to add a bacon-like flavor to your meal, you want the ham hock. However, the pork hock can be used as an actual ingredient in many meals.
Regardless of the type of meat you choose, there are many recipes for making a delicious meal.
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