Okay, there was that unexpected and totally unwanted sickness and car accident delay, but we should be back on track now. Picking up where we left off last time…
In a heavy-set enamel coated cast iron pot I started softening a few thinly sliced onions with a generous dollop of duck fat. The whole kitchen filled with a heady bouquet of slowly cooked onions. You know, the one that makes your eyes roll into the back of your skull and sends your stomach into fitful bouts of noise-making.
And here are the stars of the show: A massive hunk of bacon with two stonkingly huge ham hocks procured from the fine folks of Salt And Time and then smoked and seasoned by my buddy Paul C. who went out of his way to get these ready for me. Thankfully I was able to repay his kindness that evening as he was on hand to help with preparing this dish.
Back to the pork here in a second. At this point the onions had all softened to an acceptable level so they were joined by the sauerkraut and a few bay leaves and peppercorns. All I needed to do from here was cut the bacon into smaller pieces and add them and the hocks into the pot.
I’m no expert, but I’d hazard a guess that this was one happy piggy. Look at all of that fat!
And with lots of Tetris-like moves Paul and I managed to finagle everything into the pot with just enough sauerkraut to cover it all. Mostly. A bottle of dry white wine was poured over everything and we stuffed the pot into a moderately hot oven for a few hours.
Here’s the result of all of the effort, the mistakes and failures, the help of friends both new and old. You can see in the foreground that the meat has pulled away from the bone which is a popular way for people to describe that no further cooking is needed. The kitchen smelled amazing and both Paul and I were starving. At first we had wanted to plate everything up family style but I don’t have large enough serving platter to hold so much food.
We ended up slapping the largest hock on a dinner plate with a hunk of the bacon and a nice amount of the onion/sauerkraut mix. It’s comical, the picture is ridiculous and you can’t really point out where the bacon is without going back and really looking, can you? We didn’t care at that point, though Paul did notice that the dish was roughly the same size as his head.
See? Pretty close.
I’m struggling on how to describe the end result of… well… everything that went into making this dish. The first thing that really stood out was the lack of seasoning of the sauerkraut and onions. Had cured knuckles been used as a opposed to smoked I’m sure that there would have been enough salt to go around. That was something I should have taken into consideration during preparation and yet it just didn’t register. My God, it really was just mistake after mistake this go around. Thankfully, the meat was fantastically tender and fatty, just the comforting thing one would want on a cold winter’s evening.
This is a good recipe, you just need to be slightly more capable and aware than I was and you’ll be pleasantly content with your results.
One down, thirty two to go.