I won’t say much about this dish, I will let you cook it and find out for yourself. This is a perfect winter dish and a great way to get a rich, meaty main dish without actually using much meat. Most of all, it’s just plain delicious. Enjoy!
Braised Cabbage & Kale with Smoked Ham Hock
Serves 4 as a main dish
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 medium Onion, sliced
1 Head Green Cabbage, roughly chopped
1 Bunch Kale, roughly chopped
1 Smoked Ham Hock
4-6 Cups Water or Stock (I used 2 cups Beef Broth and 4 cups Water)
Approx. 1/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat your oven to 400F.
Heat a dutch oven or other heavy, oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pot. Add the sliced onions. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions start to soften. (Be careful with the salt at this point, because the ham will be quite salty itself and the saltiness will concentrate as the braising liquid reduces.) Add the ham hock to the pot (make sure to remove any string from the hock). Cook for another couple minutes, until the hock starts to brown, then turn the hock over (I used a pair of tongs) to brown on the other side. Keep cooking, and stirring the onions occasionally. When the onions are soft and translucent but not brown, add the chopped cabbage and kale. Stir (as much as you can – the pot may be quite full) to combine the greens and onions, and allow the greens to cook down a little. Add the liquid (stock/broth, water, or a combination) so that it comes up most of the way to the top of the greens and the hock, but does not completely cover them. The greens will release more liquid when they cook; but we want to make sure there is enough liquid in there to braise everything. Add the apple cider vinegar (you can use more or less depending on your personal preference, but don’t leave it out; it really ties the flavors together and brightens the dish). Stir to combine.
Cover your pot and bring the liquid to a boil. Then transfer the pot to your preheated oven and let it braise in the oven for about an hour. The greens will become tender and infused with the flavor of the smoked ham, and the hock will get nice and succulent and start to break apart when nudged with a spoon. Feel free to leave it in the oven to braise longer if it is not done after an hour! Time is your friend here – the dish will only get better the longer you cook it.
When ready, remove your pot from the oven and transfer it back onto the stove onto a burner on low heat. Remove the lid, and gently break up the ham hock away from the bones into bite size chunks with a wooden spoon. Stir everything to combine the chunks of meaty goodness with the meltingly tender greens. There will probably be a lot of liquid in the pot, so leave it on the burner for maybe ten more minutes so everything can reduce down a bit and the flavors can concentrate even more. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. It won’t need much seasoning – let the natural flavors of the ham, cabbage and kale really sing!
I served this as a main dish with a side of delicious, cheesy homemade mac & cheese seasoned with a dash of English mustard powder and Tabasco to give it a little kick to complement the greens (I used whole wheat pasta to make it a bit more nutritious and healthy… shh, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!)
There was a lot of braising liquid left after we had eaten all of the greens and the ham, so I froze it and used it the next week when making a hearty soup. Yum!