Friday, January 25

Ham Hock & Split Pea Stew, Parsley Pesto

Packed with flavour, honest, warming...just a cracking plate of food. This dish flies off the menu at the pub.

1 ham hock
4 carrots
1 onion
2 sticks of celery
1 leek, split and well washed
1 small potato, peeled
2 bay leaves
a large bunch of flat leaf parsley
100g yellow split peas
10 black peppercorns
25g parmesan
25g hazelnuts - lightly toasted
1 fat clove of garlic
a splash of olive oil (not extra virgin)
A squeeze of lemon juice

Remove the green part of the leek, the carrot tops and tails, and the ends of the celery and place with the ham hock in a snugly fitting pot with the bay leaves, parsley stalks (save the leaves for later) and the peppercorns. Split two of the carrots in half and add to the pot with half the onion. Cover with water, bring to the simmer, skim regularly and gently blip for 2 hours or so until the bones can easily be pulled from the flesh. Take off the heat and allow the hock to cool in the liquid.

Meanwhile chop all the remaining vegetables into similar sized pieces and add to another more roomy pot with the split peas. Remove the ham hock from the stock. Pass the stock through a sieve to remove the vegetables - discard the vegetables, reserve the stock.

Add the stock to the pan containing the vegetables and split peas and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes until the split peas are tender and the potato has broken down and thickened the broth. Taste and season with pepper, the broth is unlikely to need salt as the ham hocks will have been brined.

Set a small handful of parsley leaves aside and blitz the rest in a food processor with the parmesan, hazelnuts, garlic, and a pinch of salt. When the parsley is mush, add the oil - you may need to scrape the sides of the processor bowl several times to get an even result. Taste and season with lemon and more salt and pepper if required. 

Separate the lean ham from the bones and fat discarding everything but the lean meat. Return a generous handful of ham per person to the broth and warm through with the remaining finely chopped parsley to add colour. Serve with a good dollop of pesto. Any remaining ham makes for a great breakfast served with poached eggs and English muffins.

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