What happens when you stick several Spray Creek pork hocks in the instant pot or slow-cooker with a few litres of water? Magic! Well, really what happens is you get two things: 1. The perfectly-cooked pulled pork of your dreams, and 2. Delicious, smokey pork broth for your next batch of soup. Please try this – you’ll feel like an absolute master chef with zero effort. All you need is some smoked hocks, water, and a pot!
When I think of pork hock recipes, my mind instantly thinks of baked beans, or my mother’s delicious split pea soup. While both of these are excellent uses of smoked hocks (try those too!), this delicious cut also deserves to star in its own show occasionally, and take its place on your plate as the main dish alongside some crispy, lard-fried potatoes and homemade slaw. I will also say the shredded pork resulting from this dish is perfect for sandwiches, as a taco or enchilada filling, nacho topping, or scrambled with eggs and potatoes for a rib-sticking breakfast. The possibilities are endless. I encourage you to make a big pot, serve it that night as the main dish, and then see how many ways you can use the left-overs for the next several days!
Note about instant pot vs. slow-cooker or stovetop or oven: The cooking method here is not particular, all you need to do is simmer the hocks until they fall apart – use whatever method works for you in your kitchen. I was experimenting, so I pressure-cooked mine in the Instant Pot on low pressure for 30 minutes, and then slow-cooked (still in the Instant Pot) another few hours until I got the results I wanted. The nice thing about the instant pot is it doesn’t allow any water to evaporate – if you are using a regular pot, make sure it has a tight-fitting lid, stir occasionally, and add liquid if needed.
- At least 2 smoked pork hocks, and up to as many will fit in your pot.
- 2-4 litres water, or as much as needed to cover the hocks with water
- optional: sliced onion & garlic
- Place the thawed hocks in the instant pot, slow-cooker, stock pot, or dutch oven.
- Add some sliced garlic & onion if you want
- Fill with the pot with water a bit lower than the level of the hocks
- Cook. In a pressure cooker this will be about an hour of low-pressure cooking time, in a slow-cooker or a covered pot simmering on the stove top or in the oven this will take 4-6 hours. Don’t simmer overnight, as too much of the flavour will release into the stock, resulting in strong stock and boring meat. Make sure the pot is covered so the stock doesn’t evaporate.
- Test for doneness – tug on a bone – it should come out totally clean and easily. Try pulling apart the meat – it should shred with little effort. If the pork isn’t there yet, give a stir to rotate the side of the pork that’s in the stock, and cook a bit longer.
- When the pork is ready to shred, pour the stock through a strainer, holding back the solids in the pot you used for cooking.
- Remove the bones from the pork. (I wouldn’t bother saving the bones for stock – they’ve already given you all they have to give).
- Shred the pork with two forks. If the hocks are skin-on you may need to chop the skin with a knife to make the pieces small enough, but don’t discard it! The pork is now ready to serve!
- Put the stock aside to cool – this will allow the fat to separate so you can save the fat and the stock seperately.
- The next day, when the stock is cool, scrape off the top layer of fat and save for cooking, and freeze the stock for later use, or use now. The stock and fat will both be pleasantly salty and smokey. Perfect for almost anything.