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Ham hocks have the reputations of being a more "peasant" style meat (as my son would say when he was a little boy!), but when I got two of them when I purchased a half hog from a local farmer, I knew I'd have to find some way to make them more delicious than what I've experienced in the past. After looking through cookbooks and scouring the internet, I decided that a Oven Braised Ham Hock could be my solution.
Growing up having Southern parents, I heard about ham hocks a bit. In the South, ham hocks are used to flavor soups, greens, and beans among other things. My mom didn't cook with them because she didn't like them. Her mom would cook green beans with ham for hours and I think she was traumatized by it! However, ham hocks have a really great flavor and when properly cooked, are super tender.
How to buy ham hocks ...
... if you don't buy a half hog from a farmer! If your store doesn't stock ham hocks, ask at the butcher counter if they can get them for you. At my grocery store, I can find them in the freezer and they are usually cut into smaller sizes. If that's how you find them, you'll need to buy four.
As you can see, mine is all one piece and weighs about three pounds.
Season the ham hock liberally with salt and pepper, then lay it on a bed of sliced onions and garlic. Depending on the onion size, you'll need one or two. You want enough onions slices to cover the bottom of the braising dish.
The method to make Oven Braised Ham Hock
Start the ham hock in a hot oven so you can get the fat nice and crispy. After about 30 minutes, add some bay leaves, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and some juniper berries. Cover your baking dish and let it cook for 2-3 hours.
You want it to be so tender and succulent! It will just come right off the bone. And the flavor? Amazing! The onions and garlic mixed with the cinnamon and juniper berries is SO good!
How to serve Oven Braised Ham Hock
I love these with some oven roasted potatoes, but I also like to have a salad of some kind with a vinaigrette because it helps offsets the pork so well! I like a carrot salad, or Belgian endive. 🙂
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If you try this recipe and enjoy it, please leave a comment below and a star rating. Also, if you are on Instagram, post a photo and tag me @tammycirceocheznous so that I can see your delicious dish!
Oven Braised Ham Hock
- 1 3-pound ham hock or 4 individual serving size pieces
- 1 large onion sliced
- 6 large garlic cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- ½ tablespoon juniper berries
- 2 3-inch cinnamon sticks
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 cup beef stock
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450°F.
- Generously season the ham hock(s) with seat salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Place the onion slices and the garlic cloves on the bottom of a braising dish or roasting pan. Place the ham hock(s) on top of them and drizzle a little olive oil over all of it. Pour the beef stock in the dish.
- Place the braising dish or roasting pan in the oven and roast for about 25 minutes, or until the skin is a little crispy. Remove from the oven and love the heat to 350°F.
- Add the bay leaves, juniper berries, and cinnamon sticks to the braising dish, cover, and place the braising dish back into the oven. Roast for 2-3 more hours, or until the meat is easily removed from the bone.
Does this work with a ham hock that is already smoked?
Great question. This recipe is intended for a ham hock that has not yet been cooked in any way, including having been smoked. Any flavor from the smoking process would compete with the seasonings listed in the recipe, but I would be curious to try it. You would have to change the cook time as well. Let me know if you try it.