For under a fiver you can easily make two meals from half a ham hock with a few slices left over for sandwiches as well as a delicious stock to turn into soup. I bought an excellent piece of meat from Chadwicks of Balham for my ham hock and horseradish hot-water crust pastry pies. The hock can be very salty, so it's best to soak it in cold water overnight or, you can do it the way my mum does it, and consequently how I do it too. Simply place the ham in a large saucepan and top it up with enough cold water to cover and bring to a rolling boil. Drain off the salty water and top up with cold water again and bring to the boil, this time with the addition of flavourings - an onion, peeled and cut into quarters, some celery, some chunks of carrot, leek, herbs (I used thyme, rosemary and sage) and a scattering of whole peppercorns. There is no need to add salt - the hock will be salty enough on its own.
Hot-water crust pastry
This pastry recipe comes from Angela Boggiano's Pie
Makes about 500 g of pastry
450 g Plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp icing sugar (this won't make it sweet, it just increases the richness)
1 egg, beaten
200 ml water
80 g butter
80 g lard
Mix the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour the egg into it and toss a liberal covering of flour over the egg, `put the water, lard and butter into a saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. Once, boiling, pour the liquid on to the flour, mixing it together with a knife. Knead until all the egg streaks have gone and the pastry is smooth. Use the pastry immediately, without resting, as it hardens when it cools and will be impossible to work with.
Ham Hock and horse radish hot-water crust pastry pies.
Preheat the oven to 180 C (160 C Fan)
1 quantity of hot-water crust pastry
Cooked ham hock (as above), cut into bite sized chunks
1 onion, finely chopped
1 leek, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
A handful of sage, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1-2 tbsp cream of horse radish sauce (depending on how hot you want it)
1 pint of ham hock stock (see above)
A generous splash of double cream
salt and pepper
First things first, you'll need to make your pastry cases. I made mine about the same size as a small Scotch pie. You can use upturned straight sided glasses or jam jars for moulds. Divide the pastry in half, wrap one half and pop it in the fridge to reserve for the pie lids. Grease the outside of the moulds lightly with oil. divide the pastry into 8 balls and roll each ball to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Fit the pastry rounds over the greased upturned glasses and press drown so that the pastry is around 2 1/2 inch deep. Cut a strip of baking parchment for each glass, wrap a piece around each pastry case and tie it on with string. Place the finished pie cases in the fridge to firm up for about half an hour.
In the meantime, make the filling. Gently fry the onion, leek and garlic in olive oil until soft. Toss in the ham and cook for a further few minutes. Add the stock and herbs and leave to simmer until it has reduced by half. Stir in the horse radish and taste for heat, adding more if you like. Stir in the cream and season to taste. Leave to simmer gently while you gently slide the pastry cases off their moulds and place on a baking sheet. Divide the ham mixture between the pie cases, discarding the bay leaf once you find it.
Next, quickly roll out the remaining pastry and cut out 8 lids. Dampen the edges of the pies and place a lid on each, pressing them down lower than the rim. Crimp the edges with your fingers to seal. Brush the tops with a little beaten egg to glaze and cut a small hole in the centre of each pir to allow the steam to escape. Bake for 40 minutes or until lightly golden.
Serve hot with a little salad with honey and mustard dressing
Honey and mustard salad dressing
1/2 clove of garlic, crushes
1 tbsp of honey
1 tbsp of wholegrain or dijon mustard
The juice of 1 lemon
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Mix all the ingredients together, check for seasoning and drizzle over your salad just before serving.