This year I'm going to try to use this column to give you as many recipes as possible where you get two dishes out of one. Ham hock is a perfect example and it's also one of my favourite cuts, as you've probably gathered by now.
Gently simmering vegetables and herbs in stock, carefully skimming throughout, will create a tasty clear broth and the base for a good hearty but healthy soup.
I've added hedgerow or three-cornered garlic to this which, if you're in the know, is probably growing close to you right now. If you can't find any, then garlic chives are an excellent alternative, and they are available from good Chinese supermarkets.
1 unsmoked ham hock weighing about 1kg, soaked overnight in cold water
1 large onion, peeled and halved
2 carrots, peeled and halved
2 sticks of celery
1 bay leaf
15 black peppercorns
A couple of sprigs of thyme
3 or 4 Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into rough 1cm cubes
A handful of 3-cornered or hedgerow garlic, chopped
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Rinse the ham hock off and place in a suitable sized saucepan covered with cold water.
Add the onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns and thyme, bring to the boil and simmer gently for a couple of hours or so, skimming every so often, until the ham is coming away from the bone (you will probably need to top up the water every so often). Remove the ham and leave to cool.
Skim any fat from the stock with a ladle and, if necessary, reduce it a little to strengthen the flavour. Remove the outer fat from the ham hock and remove the bones and discard. You can keep the outer fat for roasting with potatoes if you wish when your healthy streak is over!
Chop enough ham into chunks for the soup and reserve the rest for the ham and pea salad overleaf. Add the ham and Jerusalem artichoke to the soup and simmer for about 5 minutes, until tender, then add the 3-cornered garlic, season to taste and simmer for another minute.