Main course, Serves 4

My grandmother used to do it once a week, but no one seems to cook their own ham any more. It's easier to pick up a pack of the pre-sliced substitute for four times the price. Or is it? Ham hocks are almost given away, and are actually so simple to cook. If you're planning to make this dish, buy a couple of hocks and use the second one for delicious sandwiches. Or make this soup with the tasty stock that's left: when the hocks are cooked, strain off the stock and simmer it with some pre-soaked dried split peas for about 1 1/2 hours; blend half of it in a liquidiser and pour it back in the pan with some of the shredded hock trimmings.

1 small ham hock, weighing 300-400g, soaked in water overnight
1 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled, topped and tailed and left whole
10 peppercorns
2 cloves
1 bay leaf
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
150g French beans, topped and tailed

For the dressing

2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2tsp Dijon mustard
2tsp white wine vinegar
60ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Wash the ham hock in cold water then put it into a large pot with the onion, carrots, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf and garlic. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 3-4 hours or until the meat comes away from the bone easily. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. If you're in a hurry remove from the water and run under a cold tap.

Put the shallots into a mixing bowl with the mustard and vinegar, then whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. If the dressing looks a little thick add a little of the ham cooking liquid or water.

Remove the ham from the bone while still warm and flake into small pieces discarding any fat. Meanwhile cook the beans in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes until tender then drain in a colander. Mix the beans with the dressing while still warm and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Arrange the beans on a plate and scatter the ham on top.