Chick pea, ham and trotter stew

Serves 4-6
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120-150g dried cicerchia or good-quality chick peas, soaked for at least 24 hours in plenty of cold water
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 cured ham knuckle or a smoked or un-smoked hock
2 small pig's trotters, halved lengthways (optional)
Cut any meat from the knuckle into rough 2cm cubes
A couple sprigs of thyme or oregano
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C/Gas mark 3.

Put all of the ingredients into an oven-proof pot with a lid, cover with water, bring to the boil, cover and cook in the oven for about 2-2 hours or until the beans are tender. The beans may well take more cooking. Season if necessary and serve as a hearty soup or stew.