If you read this blog, chances are, you are a believer in the power of stock. Good stock is what separates home cooking from restaurant quality fare. If you have a good stock at hand, you are only minutes away from innumerous sauces or elegant soups. Chicken stock is a must have, and veal stock is terrific when you can get it. However, I’ve found that the tastiest of God’s creatures is often overlooked in the stock world. The noble pig.
Pork stock is probably the easiest and most satisfying stock you can make if you’re a Southerner. Pig parts are ubiquitous in the grocery store, and if like me, you keep some smoked hocks in the freezer, you’re pretty much set. Pressure cooker? Hope so. Here’s the drill. Saute 1 diced onion,1 diced carrot, and one smoked hock in your pressure cooker for about 5 minutes. Add a bay leaf, some peppercorns, and a big pinch of Herbs De Provence. If you want some extra “umami” add a handful of chopped, dried Shitakes. Add 2 quarts of water and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over high-pressure for 45 minutes to an hour. Let cool slightly and remove the hock. Separate the hock meat and shred finely for garnishing whatever… Strain the stock carefully and you’re good to go.
I suppose technically this would be classified as a broth, but you can reduce it to provide more mouth feel.
What should you do with pork stock? One version of traditional Japanese ramen is made with tonkotsu, which means pork bone broth. I’ve never had a traditional ramen, just the microwave crap we’ve all had in college. However, I doubt it could be much better than what’s pictured here.
JW’s Ramen: Cook, drain and rinse whatever noodles you like (pictured are Udon, not Ramen); meanwhile saute some mushrooms (Shitakes are nice), dice some scallions, lightly poach an egg (yolk needs to be runny), portion out some hock meat, and slice some nori (the seaweed wrappers used for sushi, kombu is dried kelp and is more traditional, but who want to keep that stuff around?). To serve, place noodles in the bottom of your bowl, top with poached egg, distribute the garnishes around the bowl in neat piles, then pour hot broth over everything until the noodles are submerged. The broth can be made more interesting by adding a little miso paste or lite soy sauce.
What else can you do? You can reduce some of the broth into a pork demi and use it to drizzle over pretty much anything that benefits from porkiness. You could quick saute some shredded greens and drizzle with pork demi….mmmm. You can use to cook vegetables (such as the snap peas pictured) and reduce to a glaze adding a bit of butter before serving. You could use as a base for cooking cooking beans (I typically just throw in a hock for dried beans) or for the liquid portion of a succotash. Other ideas?