I don’t know about you, but I find that I never have friends over for food during the colder months. All I want to do is snuggle up on the sofa in front of the fire with the curtains drawn. But at this time of year my thoughts turn to entertaining. So I am always on the lookout for easy, cheap recipes for sharing .
The ham hock is the shin of the pig just above the ankle. Ham hocks are wonderfully cheap (approx €1.50 each) with plenty of meat and full of flavour. They are ideal are long slow cooking so the meat falls apart, and because of the bone, it naturally produces its own gelatine which means that the stock its cooked in can be used to make a jelly to set a terrine. Perfect, and as an added bonus the ham hocks are virtually fat free.
Two ham hocks are enough to make a terrine to feed twelve people and talk to your local butcher in advance as you might need to order them in. The classic recipe varies from region to region all over the world, but it’s a good idea to include some cooked vegetables and or pickles in the terrine, as their texture makes a wonderful contrast to the soft meat and jelly. Serve with lots of crusty French bread, salad leaves, maybe a and a good chilled white wine like a Chablis or Muscadet.
Bring to the boil and once boiling, reduce the temperature to a simmer. Continue to simmer for at least 3 hours until the meat is very tender and falls easily from the bone. When tender, remove the ham hocks from the saucepan and set aside. Allow the hocks and stock to cool.
While the hocks are simmering take a loaf tin and sprinkle a little water inside the loaf tin. Smear the sprinkled water up the sides of the tin as well to lightly coat all of the inside. Take some cling film and fit it in the loaf tin, making sure that there is plenty to overhang all sides. I usually find that I use four separate layers of cling film in a cross shape to make sure there is plenty of extra film to cover the terrine.
When the ham is cold tear the meat of the bone and throw away all the fat and skin. No need to chop the meat, as the long shreds of meat look fantastic when set in the terrine. Put the meat in a large bowl and reserve. Strip a bunch of parsley leaves from the stalk, roughly chop and add to the meat.
Now at this stage you can be creative. For the photos I lightly steamed some chard leaves, but you could use some gently boiled carrot sticks, or asparagus and add to the bowl. Quarter some cornichons (small pickled gherkins) and mix all the veg and meat together and spoon into the lined loaf tin.
With the stock that was used to boil the ham hocks bring back to the boil and reduce until about 300ml is left. Leave the stock to cool in the fridge and when cooled carefully pour into the loaf tin over the meat mixture. Cling film over to seal the terrine
Cut out some card large enough to cover the terrine and wrap the card in tinfoil. Lay some tins on top of the card to weigh the terrine down and put in the fridge overnight to set. The terrine will keep for up to 6 days in the fridge. Unwrap to serve.