This blog was created to showcase all the fun and exciting new things we are doing here at Inspired Occasions, and we couldn't of had a better launching topic than the whole hog butchery class at The Local Pig with Chef/Owner/Butcher Extraordinaire Alex Pope.
The weather was beautiful, the birds were singing and five very excited culinarians were about to cut up an entire Berkshire hog! We had been talking about this class for weeks, some of us to excited to sleep the night before, and the new dish ideas were already starting to take shape.
"Oh man a whole braised and roasted pork belly, carved table side..."
"Family style served roasted pork shanks with a great apple and onion gravy...."
"I just want the head, it's head cheese time!"
We arrived and were greated by a very nonchalant Alex, wearing a white t-shirt, black pants and a friendly smile. He brought us into his shop for some amazing wings, rilletes with toast, cheese and extraordinary sausages. A few wings and some great Boulevard brews later we started our class.
We would spend the next 3 hours going through the proper ways to take apart our porcine friend and get all the wonderful cuts we love and cherish. Lon surprised us all, as a secret seasoned veteran of hog butchery he made the final cuts with ease and grace.
This class was my inspiration, my starting point that brought me to our first dish. Pork hocks are one of the most underrated cuts on the pig. The meat, while not as much as other cuts, has so much flavor and an amazing texture. It is a tough cut so you have to give the meat a lot of love, low and slow till the meat falls off the bone. This dish celebrates all these wonderful qualities and puts them perfectly on display.
This dish is a braised and roasted fresh pork hocks with a caramelized onion and apple gravy. I started by rendering some bacon strips in an pan till crispy. I removed them and added to the pan sliced onions, celery, granny smith apples and fresh thyme. I sauteed that for just a few minutes and then deglazed the pan with apple cider vinegar. I took the fresh hocks and rolled them in a little olive oil, kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper, then placed them on top of the vegetables topped off with a mixture of apple juice and chicken stock.
The pan was covered and placed in a 275 degree oven to braise for 6 hours, basting with the pan juices every hour. After the meat was fall off the bone tender it was uncovered and roasted at 425 degrees till the skin became crispy and a beautiful mahogany color.
Next step was making the most amazing sauce I have ever had. All the pan dripping and liquid were blended together, strained, then placed back on the heat to reduce just a little. Here is the final product, two beautiful hocks on a platter with fresh roasted and grilled vegetable medley and roasted potatoes with sour cream and sweet onions.
This dish was a real winner and I can't wait to start finding it a place on our menus.