Ham stock is simple to make and it’s incredibly useful for enriching sauces and soups. I will warn you – it doesn’t smell very nice when it’s cooking. But it’s worth it.
For bonus points, you will also have a bunch of cooked ham which you can pick apart and use for sandwiches or in soup (see below).
Makes about 2 pints
1 ham hock or other cheap joint, perferably with a bone in
2 carrots, snapped in half
1 onion, quartered
4 or 5 sage leaves
Don’t, whatever you do, add salt.
Some people prefer to soak the ham to reduce the saltiness. I like it salty. If you don’t then soak the ham overnight in a couple of changes of water.
Bung in all in a large pot. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Skim off any scum and then leave to simmer for about 4 hours. Check occasionally, tasting and topping up the water if necessary. Strain into a large bowl and reserve the ham for later use. That’s it!
Ham stock is very gelatinous and after being left in the fridge overnight it will turn to meat jelly. Mmmmm… meat jelly. It will now be easy to skim the fat off the top of the stock. You can freeze it or it’ll keep in the fridge for 4-5 days.
Ham stock is particularly good in lentil soup.
Ham & Lentil Soup
Makes about 2 pints
1 pint ham stock
1 pint water
2 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Small knob of butter (heh, “knob”)
200g lentils (I like Puy lentils for their earthiness)
3 or 4 sage leaves
However much ham you want, leftover from making the stock
A dash of worcester sauce
Melt the butter in a large-ish pot and chuck in the onion and carrot. Saute until they’re softened and jusy catching on the bottom of the pot, then add the garlic and fry for another minute or so until you can really smell the garlic start to cook. Don’t burn it.
Now throw in the lentils, sage leaves, pint of stock and pint of water. Shake in a few dashes or worcester sauce. Bring up to the boil and let it simmer for about an hour. Taste regularly and add more water if needed.
After an hour, add in the ham and simmer for another ten minutes. Ta dah! A wholesome, filling soup made my your own fair hand.