smoked hocks

crustyo44
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smoked hocks

Post by crustyo44 » Sat May 12, 2012 20:40

Hi Members,
Are there any instructions in this history section on the easiest way of curing and smoking pork hocks or does a member have a favourite way of doing these.
I am interested what is the best method, dry or wet curing, hot or cold smoking.
Personally I lean towards the wet curing and a 10% injection rate, close to the bones.
Regards,
Jan
Last edited by crustyo44 on Sat May 19, 2012 11:17, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by ssorllih » Sat May 12, 2012 21:05

With my half vast experience of doing two hocks from shoulder I rubbed dry cure in at the rate of 2% salt and .25% cure#1 (6.25 %sodium nitrite)and 1.5% sugar, rubbed in hard around the bone cured for ten days and cold smoked.
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Post by redzed » Sat May 12, 2012 21:28

I smoked three hocks and fresh ham bones last week. These were saved from three hind legs I boned for Krakowska. Since I was doing this for a bean soup, what I needed was that cured/smoked flavour. I made cuts into the Hocks every two inches and brined them for four days, the meaty bones for two days.

The basic brine I used for 4 litres of water 600g. salt, 200g white sugar, 7.5 tsp. #1. I also threw in a handful of rosemary from the garden. The result was a bit salty, but once incorporated into the soup, it served the purpose quite well. The soup was excellent.
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Post by Cabonaia » Thu May 17, 2012 04:28

I've smoked a lot of hocks, with and without cure. The way I like best is simply to smoke them as-is - no cure, rub, brining or anything. I use a water smoker, and smoke them till they are fully cooked and pretty dark. I smoke the feet, too. They make great beans. They come out so good this way that I haven't been able to see the benefit of curing them first. Or am just lazy!
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Post by Chuckwagon » Thu May 17, 2012 04:55

The MRI (Members Recipe Index) is at this link: http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=5146
There are all sorts of recipes there from these terrific folks who are members and support this forum. I put a recipe in the MRI for "hocks" a little over a year ago. Wanna try it? It's at this link: http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=4996 Also in the MRI, are two great dinner recipes for hock from "Big Guy" in Canada.

Here's my recipe for smokin' em'. I hope you give them a try :wink: :

"Cowboy`s Ham Hock`s N` Beans"
(Cure And Smoke Your Own Ham Hocks For A Great Dinner Dish)

Ask your butcher for "short-shank fresh hams" more commonly called "ham hocks". Be sure to ask for "fresh" - meaning not cured. Hocks are cured exactly like ham except they are pumped to 15% of their green weight (instead of 10% in ham) because they lose about 4% more pickling solution than does ham.
For pumping 25 lbs. of hocks at 15% of their green weight, you`ll need to inject 3.75 lbs. of brine. Using the following recipe, measure the correct amount of nitrite (Cure #1) into cold water and give the piggy`s hocks a shot in several places being sure to inject brine along the bones. What could be easier?

For 25 lbs. of Ham Hocks:

5 quarts ice water
1 lb. kosher salt
1 cup powdered dextrose
2/3 cup Cure #1

Next, submerge the "pumped" ham in the remaining brine (called a "pickle"), for five days at 38°;F. (3°;C.).
Finally, the cured ham hocks are removed from the brine, rinsed, and placed into 170°F. (77°C.) water until the center of the meat reaches 150°F. (66°C.). This "preparatory" cooking ensures the elimination of cryptosporidium paryum and trichinella spiralis. Having cured the hocks with nitrite, along with cooking them, you have also removed the threat of clostridium botulinum, campylobacter jejuni, escherichia coli O157:H7, listeria, cyclospora cayetanensis, staphylococcus aureus, clostridium perfringens, and... three pathogens in particular responsible for 1,500 deaths annually - salmonella, listeria monocytogenes, and toxoplasma.

The cooking may take several hours. Be patient and don`t try to rush the process. Use a probe type thermometer with a timing alarm to alert you when the meat has cooked. Note that at 138°F. (59°C.), any possible trichinella spiralis are destroyed. At 150°F. (66°C.), the ham hocks become fully cooked and any threat of "crypto" has been removed. Cool the hocks with cold running water and dry them. Remove them to a cold smoker using a thin hickory smoke for several days.

If you wish to hot-smoke the hocks, skip the water-cooking step described above and use your smoker-cooker. Preheat it to 120°;F. (49°;C.) and dry the hocks several hours. Increase the temperature to 140°;F. (60°;C.) and introduce hickory smoke for eight hours. Increase the temperature again to 165°;F. (74°;C.) and continue smoking until the meat temperature reaches beyond 138°;F. (59°;C.) to destroy any possible trichinae. To fully cook the hocks, allow the meat temperature to reach 152°;F. (67°;C.). Cool the hocks with cold water until their temperature drops to a point cool enough to refrigerate them overnight.

To make the recipe dish:

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried lima beans, soaked overnight, drained
4 ham hocks
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tspn. sugar
1/2 tspn. pepper
1/4 tspn. cloves
salt to taste

Place the beans in the bottom of a Dutch oven and add 1-1/2 quarts of water. Bring the water to boil, immediately reduce the heat to simmer, and add all the remaining ingredients. Barely simmer the mixture eight to ten hours, covered, stirring and adding moisture as needed

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
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Post by Chuckwagon » Thu May 17, 2012 05:17

Cabonaia, you wrote:
The way I like best is simply to smoke them as-is - no cure, rub, brining or anything. I haven't been able to see the benefit of curing them first. Or am just lazy!
Jeff, the reason we add cure to this recipe is because when they are smoked, they usually fall within "danger zone" (40°F to 140°F) and the smoke itself cuts off the oxygen to the obligate anaerobic clostridium botulinum. These two factors, coupled with a third condition, (moist nutrition for the bacteria), offer perfect conditions for the production of toxic spores. There is very little chance of contracting the clostridium botulinum bacterium. However, with this stuff, one chance is all you get! Remember the first rule of a professional sausagemaker: If you can`t cure it, don`t smoke it!

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably needs more time on the grill! :D
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Post by Big Guy » Thu May 17, 2012 05:23

I like a wet brine, I use 1 cup coarse salt, 1 cup brown sugar, 20 cups water and cure. Brine for 10 days then smoke. I did the same with a few turkey legs too

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Last edited by Big Guy on Thu May 17, 2012 05:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Cabonaia » Thu May 17, 2012 05:24

Hey CW - My question is, if I am eventually bringing them up to temps above 140F - in effect hot smoking them so they are fully cooked - am I running the danger of botulism?
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Post by Chuckwagon » Thu May 17, 2012 07:04

if I am eventually bringing them up to temps above 140F
Jeff, how long a time period is "eventually". If they only smoke for a little while while they are raw, then spores may develop. The problem is... once the spores develop, cooking temperatures will not destroy them.
If you were to "cook" them right off the bat, at temperatures above 200°F., then it is entirely a different matter. This constitues "cooking".
However, if raw meat of any type is placed into a smoker where those three conditions are met, in no time at all the bacteria start to multiply. Again they are:
1. temperature in the "danger zone" (40°F - 140°F)
2. lack of oxygen
3. moist source of nutrition
Actually, the bacteria can double every twenty minutes! :shock: In the case of the clostridium botulinum bacterium, (if present in the meat), once they develop spores, no amount of cooking will destroy their toxins.
For a full discussion about the matter, click on this link and scroll down to the dialogue: http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=5678&start=0

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
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Post by Cabonaia » Thu May 17, 2012 14:45

Thanks - I really appreciate the advice, but am still a bit confused. What is the line between smoking and BBQing? When I smoke a pork but "low and slow" I am sure it takes quite a while before the center of it gets above 140F. I have never monitored that temp rise so don't know how long that takes. I don't cure pork butt or other larger pieces of meat before BBQing. I don't doubt this is covered in some other string do feel free to reference me back - I read the one you included, but still have this question.

Cheers,
Jeff
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Post by Darthfrog » Thu May 17, 2012 21:59

Cabonaia wrote:Thanks - I really appreciate the advice, but am still a bit confused. What is the line between smoking and BBQing? When I smoke a pork but "low and slow" I am sure it takes quite a while before the center of it gets above 140F.
BBQ is hot smoking, around 225 F/107 C, and the meat cooks as it smokes. Cold smoking doesn't cook the meat as the temperatures are much lower, around 100 F/38 C.

The bacterium, Clostridium botulinum, is, as Chuckwagon pointed out, an obligate anaerobe. The conditions of BBQ'ing low 'n slow and cold smoking present ideal conditions for the growth of C. botulinum bacteria from pre-existing spores in the meat (if there are no spores, there cannot be a botulism poisoning): warm (until they are cooked!), low acid, moist and anaerobic (no oxygen). The problem is not the bacteria themselves, rather it is the toxins they produce and release into the meat. While cooking, either during hot smoking or preparing cold smoked meats for consumption, will kill the bacteria themselves, it does not affect the botulism toxin (AKA sausage poison) that the bacteria have already produced.

Botulism toxin is one of the most potent neurotoxins known. It acts by blocking neuromuscular transmission by interfering with acetylcholine release. In a nutshell, you will suffocate as you cannot contract your respiratory muscles to inspire air. It is very effective at low doses.

The good news is that properly curing (with sodium nitrite) your sausage meat prior to smoking (hot or cold) will prevent the growth of C. botulinum and avoid the issue altogether.

When BBQ'ing whole meats (i.e. hot smoking), such as brisket, pork butt, ribs, etc. the bacterial spores will be limited to the surface of the meats where it will be hot, dry and aerobic. Very hostile conditions for _C. botulinum_ and no curing is necessary.

However, when making sausage the meat is ground and the bacterial spores on the surface of the meat will be well mixed into the interior of the sausage mass. Very favourable conditions for the growth of C. botulinum and production of its toxin. Here, curing is essential.

Undoubtedly, you will encounter folks who will say that curing sausage meat prior to smoking is unnecessary, that they've been making it this way for years and haven't encountered any problems. They are playing a culinary version of Russian roulette.

If I were smoking pork hocks, I would cure them. I like the flavour. :-)

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Post by Cabonaia » Fri May 18, 2012 01:21

Thanks Rob! You will never find me cold or hot smoking uncured sausage or any kind of uncured minced meat. But...ham hocks are neither. That's why I'm being such a pest here. And I am not talking about cold smoking, but hot smoking. So the question remains - why is it not ok to hot smoke uncured ham hocks? They have so much fat and collagen in them, and they've got thick skin over them, so they seem to profit from this kind of abuse, and as you say they are whole pieces of meat.

Could it be I am causing confusion by calling what I do to the hocks hot smoking, when to some "smoking" only means cold smoking, and hot smoking is just another word for BBQing? The link Chuckwagon provided was about cold smoking raw chicken...that is scary. In future I will be sure to be clear to differentiate, and point out that to get meat to 140F I do not put it in a 140F environment but in a 220+, so nobody gets me wrong and traipses off to cold smoke uncured meat.

BTW, the reason I would rather skip the curing for hocks in particular is that it makes the hocks salty, and when I make beans with hocks I find they cook better if there is no salt added till the beans have softened up. Seems a lot of trouble to cure the hocks, hot smoke/BBQ them, then remove the salt with a lot of soaking, then add them to the beans.


Standing by for further warnings.... :mrgreen: I appreciate the attention to safety on this forum, and never tire of death-by-botulism scenarios.
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Post by ssorllih » Fri May 18, 2012 03:09

I have had good results with dry rubbing salt, cure, and sugar into rather small pieces of meat. (less than 4 pounds) and giving those pieces a couple of weeks in a cold fridge. Salt amounting to a bit less than 2 % including the salt in the cure #1 (93.75%). It is the sodium nitrite that you need for the cure and the C. Botulinium protection.
The chances that you could successfully grow a C.Botulinium culture are very small, likewise if I placed an anti- personel land mine in your back yard the chances that you would step on it are very small BUT the consequences would be unforgetable.
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Post by Darthfrog » Fri May 18, 2012 03:39

Cabonaia wrote:
BTW, the reason I would rather skip the curing for hocks in particular is that it makes the hocks salty, and when I make beans with hocks I find they cook better if there is no salt added till the beans have softened up. Seems a lot of trouble to cure the hocks, hot smoke/BBQ them, then remove the salt with a lot of soaking, then add them to the beans.
In days of yore (I knew I'd get to use that word sometime in my life! :mrgreen: ) a high salt level was necessary for preservation. In today's world of ubiquitous refridgeration, salt preservation is no longer necessary and, instead, is used primarily for flavour. So if you don't like the flavour, leave it out.

I don't think you need to cure hocks to prevent botulism, they are a whole cut. But you could certainly cure them for flavour in a low salt cure. Salt and nitrite are separate considerations and can be adjusted separately. Your recipe no doubt calls for Prague Powder #1 or Insta-Cure #1 or some other cure name that has 6.25% sodium nitrite in a salt matrix. Just use that amount of cure and however much extra salt you wish. As mentioned, the extra salt is for flavour.

In regard to my previous post, BTW, if one was to inject a marinade or cure into a whole cut of meat such as a ham or a hock, that introduces a non-zero risk of botulism. So a nitrite cure is essential when injecting to prevent the growth of organisms in the internal compartment of the meat from surface contamination introduced by the injection needle.

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Cheers,
Rob
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Post by Marty » Wed Jul 25, 2012 20:32

Hiya's,

This is my first post in the forum :D I'm not sure whether to be alarmed or not by botulism. Here in New Zealand I have several choices of nitrite free, free range, organic pork products that I can buy from the supermarket. For my own pork I buy it directly from the farm. I cannot for the life of me find any reported human outbreaks of Botulism in NZ from eating cured products.

Interestingly, all the products that DO get treated with sodium nitrite are imported from countries like the USA and China where pigs are reportedly farmed in un-natural conditions. There is a big push to get pigs out of sow-crates here, making it against the law.

So, short of asking my certified organic, free range, rare breed pork producer (who is from the US and also gets charcuterie made) what are your thoughts on this? After reading about the health issues associated with sodium nitrite, I'm actually not very keen at all to add it - it looks like nasty stuff! I'm not into additives at all I'm sorry, especially when most people seem to use NaNO2 to flavour their foods.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodium_nitrite

So yes, after quite a search via internet (not the be all and end all search I know...) the most I could find was quite a number of reports to do with Avian/Waterfowl related botulism which, well, you're not gonna pick up a dead duck and eat it are you? I hope?
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