It could be known as a ham hock, a pork knuckle or schweinshaxe, but the pork hock is a large, meaty portion with a prolonged culinary record which also necessitates a little bit of approach and a rather extended cooking time to be completed appropriately.
Significantly less ham and a lot more shank, the pork hock seems as component of each soul foods recipes and all those of the Pennsylvania Dutch. Germans, Alsatians and northern Italians may possibly serve it with sauerkraut.
In Waterloo Area, it appears on occasion at several venues, but is probably finest identified as an anchor dish that attracts, at minimum pre-COVID-19, busloads of Toronto diners to the Outdated Heidelberg Restaurant and Tavern on Lobsinger Line.
The pork hock has been not long ago added to the menu at Scran and Dram Community House in New Hamburg its visual appearance is the two a welcoming very little problem to the well-liked Heidelberg model and a transfer toward adding an extra layer of flavour and foods heritage.
“With our executive chef Chris Foisy, I came up with the concept. I haven’t been cooking in the area for about 10 a long time and was at Millcroft Inn,” suggests Scran and Dram head chef Daniel Neri.
“Coming back again here, I wanted to pull in influences from the area and blend with the Scottish.”
Which is in which the pork hock comes in. A buddy of Neri’s outlined the Heidelberg dish.
“I’m thinking, yeah, it’s quite excellent, and I desired to do it much better and otherwise,” claims Neri.
In thinking of “pub grub,” Neri is concentrating on approach regardless of the substances essential to make fairly basic dishes, backlink wings. “It’s about building the crispiest rooster and generating the very best pork hock. Cooking is not all about truffles and foie gras.”
Somewhere else on the menu, Neri prepares gravlax — trout healed for 5 times in a beet-dill concoction, vacuum sealed, rinsed, sliced thinly and served with “tattie scones.”
“There’s a Scottish influence there,” he suggests.
Neri, a prepare dinner since he was in his late teenagers, started out with the Charcoal Team as a result of his Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Method out of Kitchener-Waterloo Collegiate and Vocational College. “I’m a straight-up journeyman and invested about 9 decades at the Millcroft.”
His pork hocks are simply just fixed in salt and sugar, together with thyme and rosemary and one more blended ingredient from Asian delicacies: “We use Chinese 5-spice (a blend that generally incorporates star anise, fennel and cinnamon), and it rests for a working day.”
The hocks are rinsed and get a bathtub in Wellesley apple cider, together with standard aromatics.
“We vacuum-seal them and sous vide them for provider, reheating them in our immersion circulator,” he adds.
The mixture of vacuum-sealing and reheating in a water tub that maintains a constant temperature is a thing Scran does on a regular basis in their cooking.
The basic pub factor returns right before the pork hock hits the plate with a foundation of rather creamy mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables: it then hits 350-degree oil for a swift fry.
At plating, the schweinshaxe is seasoned with the deeply flavoured braising liquid from the hock’s preparation, and a sauce of apple cider and hen gravy is drizzled over to mellow out the flavor.
It highlights standard community pork merchandise, but in an elevated way that attracts on method. The dish remains available for a standard pub crowd, but at the similar time it presents some thing new and distinctive — and a bit more afield from the regular pub fare, according to Neri.
“We deep-fry the hocks with a little bit of corn starch,” he states. “I feel that’s what genuinely sets it aside. There is a wonderful crispy coating on the outside the house that is really good.”
Crisp and meaty, without a doubt.
Andrew Coppolino is a Kitchener-dependent food writer and broadcaster. Visit him at www.andrewcoppolino.com.