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Smoked Ham Hocks

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Smoked ham hocks are a staple ingredient used in Southern and soul food cooking. They are commonly used to season broths when cooking dishes like collard greens and beans and add a smoky, meaty flavor to many of your favorite recipes.

This smoked ham hocks recipe focuses on raw ham hocks that are cooked on a smoker to infuse them with rich, smoky flavor. Once smoked, they become a flavorful addition to many of our favorite recipes including red beans and rice, pinto beans, collard greens, and more. You can also make your own smoked neck bones.

You’re probably used to buying smoked ham hocks at the grocery store, but with this recipe, you can skip store-bought and smoke them yourself. When you’re ready to cook with them, grab them from the freezer and you’re good to go.

It’s very easy to smoke your own ham hocks. We also love that you can choose your preferred wood for flavor like oak or pecan. They turn a beautiful mahogany color and smell amazing!

With this smoked ham hocks recipe, you’ll have them on hand whenever you want to add smoky flavor to a dish. This is convenient during times when you can’t get to the store or are unable to find smoked ham hocks at the local market (which happens often in our area).

Keep reading to learn how to smoke and properly store ham hocks. Let’s get to it!

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • FLAVOR ENHANCER – Smoked ham hocks add incredible depth and smokiness to dishes like collard greens and red beans and rice, elevating the overall flavor profile.
  • CONVENIENT – Sometimes local markets may not carry pre-smoked ham hocks, so smoking them yourself is convenient and accessible.
  • PERFECT FOR BEGINNERS – This easy, straightforward recipe is ideal for those learning how to use their smoker.

What are Ham Hocks?

Ham hocks are the joint where the pig’s foot meets the leg. This cut is typically taken from the hind leg, near the pig’s ankle or hock joint. They are known for their rich flavor and the presence of connective tissue, which, when slow smoked, imparts a savory, porky flavor. They are often used in Southern and soul food cooking, to add depth of flavor and smokiness to dishes.

What to Cook with Smoked Ham Hocks

Smoked ham hocks are a great addition to various Southern soul food dishes, infusing rich, smoky flavor into broths. Here are some of our classic recipes that can be cooked with smoked ham hocks:

  • Collard Greens: Boil smoked ham hocks with collard greens, onions, and seasonings for a flavorful side dish.
  • Red Beans and Rice: Add them to the pot while cooking red beans and rice for a hearty and savory flavor.
  • Black-Eyed Peas: Simmer with black-eyed peas, onions, and spices for a delicious and comforting dish.
  • Cabbage: Use them to flavor a cabbage, combining them with cabbage, potatoes, and other vegetables.

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 pounds raw ham hocks
  • Wood, for smoking

Brine

Brining Instructions

This recipe uses a basic salt, sugar, and water brine that will infuse your ham hocks with a nice balance of flavor while helping to retain moisture during smoking.

  1. Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a pot.
  2. In the same pot, add 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar to the boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Remove the pot from heat and let the brine cool slightly.
  4. Add 4 cups ice to the pot, stirring until the ice is mostly melted, and the brine reaches room temperature.
  5. Place ham hocks in a large bowl or container.
  6. Pour the brine over them, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  7. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor absorption.
  8. Before cooking, remove ham hocks from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, proceed with smoking.

How to Smoke Ham Hocks

  1. Preparation: Rinse the ham hocks under cold water and pat them dry with paper towels.
  2. Prepare the Smoker: Preheat your smoker to a temperature of around 225-250°F (107-121°C). This low and slow cooking method helps them absorb the smoky flavor and become tender.
  3. Add Smoke: Add wood to the smoker or directly to the coals. The type of wood you choose will influence the flavor. We recommend oak, hickory, or pecan.
  4. Smoke: Place the ham hocks directly on the grates.
  5. Maintain Temperature: Monitor the temperature of the smoker and try to keep it within the 225-250°F (107-121°C) range. This ensures a slow and even cooking process.
  6. Check for Doneness: Smoke until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F to 170°F and are a mahogany color.

Storage Instructions

Vacuum sealing smoked ham hocks is a great way to preserve their flavor and keep them fresh for an extended period. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, the water displacement method, also known as the “water immersion method,” can be used to remove air from the storage bag.

Both methods help remove air from the packaging, preventing freezer burn and preserving the flavor of the smoked ham hocks. Remember to label the bags with the contents and date for easy identification later on.

How to Vacuum Seal

  1. Cool: Allow the smoked ham hocks to cool to room temperature before attempting to vacuum seal them.
  2. Pre-Freeze (Optional): For better results, you can pre-freeze the smoked hocks on the tray for about an hour. This prevents the release of excess juices during vacuum sealing. Place them in a single layer on a tray or plate and freeze for 1 hour.
  3. Prepare the Vacuum Sealer: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your vacuum sealer. Ensure that the machine is clean and has a sufficient supply of vacuum-sealing bags.
  4. Place in Bags: Arrange them in a single layer inside the vacuum-sealing bag. Leave enough space between the hocks and the top of the bag for proper sealing.
  5. Seal the Bag: Use the vacuum sealer to remove the air from the bag and create a tight seal. Follow the instructions on your vacuum sealer for the best results.
  6. Label and Date: Label the bag with the contents and the date of smoking before storing it in the freezer.

Water Displacement Method

  • Cool: Allow the smoked hocks to cool to room temperature before attempting to seal them.
  • Use Ziplock Freezer Bags: Place ham hocks into a high-quality, freezer-safe Ziplock bag. Ensure that the bag is large enough to leave some space at the top for the water displacement method.
  • Seal Almost Completely: Seal the Ziplock bag almost completely, leaving a small corner unsealed.
  • Water Displacement Method: Slowly lower the bag with the hocks into a large bowl or basin of water, leaving the unsealed corner above the waterline. The water pressure will force the air out of the bag.
  • Seal Completely: Once the air is mostly removed, seal the remaining corner of the Ziplock bag.
  • Label and Date: Label the bag with the contents and the date of smoking before storing it in the freezer.

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Wood Selection: Experiment with different wood types (oak, hickory, apple, pecan) for smoking to impart distinct flavors. Pecan wood, for instance, can add a sweet and mild smokiness.
  • Consistent Temperature: Maintain a consistent smoking temperature. Fluctuations can impact the final product. Aim for a smoking temperature between 225-250°F (107-121°C).
  • Low and Slow: Smoke hocks at a low temperature for an extended period. This slow and low approach ensures thorough flavor infusion and tender meat.

FAQ

Can I use a regular grill for smoking?

Absolutely! If you don’t have a dedicated smoker, you can still achieve great results with a charcoal or gas grill. Use indirect heat and some wood chips for that smoky goodness.

Do I need to remove the skin before smoking?

No, you do not need to remove the skin before smoking. We left the skin on, which is pretty common for most smoked ham hocks you’ll find in the store.

Smoked ham hocks and smoked neck bones

Summary

Ditch the store-bought smoked ham hocks and smoke them yourself! Next time you’re in the mood for collard greens or pinto beans, you won’t have to worry about running to the store or wondering whether or not they’re sold out. You’ll already have some on hand in your freezer!

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Smoked Ham Hocks

  • Author: cooks with soul
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Brine:: 4 hours
  • Cook Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Total Time: 14 minute
  • Yield: Varies
  • Category: meats
  • Method: smoking
  • Cuisine: southern, soul food

Description

Smoked ham hocks are a staple ingredient used in Southern and soul food cooking. They are commonly used to season broths when cooking collard greens, beans, and more. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 23 pounds raw ham hocks
  • Wood, for smoking (e.g. oak, hickory, or pecan)

Brine


Instructions

  1. Brine: Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a pot.
  2. Add 1/4 cup kosher salt and 1/4 cup sugar to boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved.
  3. Remove pot from heat and let brine cool slightly.
  4. Add 4 cups ice pot, stirring until mostly melted, and brine reaches room temperature.
  5. Place ham hocks in a large bowl or container. Pour brine over them, ensuring they are fully submerged.
  6. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for maximum flavor absorption.
  7. Before cooking, remove from brine, rinse, and pat dry with a paper towel. Then, proceed with smoking.
  8. Smoke: Rinse ham hocks under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.
  9. Preheat smoker to 225-250°F (107-121°C). Add wood to smoker.
  10. Place ham hocks directly on smoker grates. Monitor temperature and try to keep it within the 225-250°F (107-121°C) range.
  11. Smoke until they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F to 170°F and are a mahogany color.
  12. Follow freezer storage instructions until ready to use.

Keywords: smoked ham hocks, ham hocks

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