Ham Hock Terrine is cozy, rustic yet classic French appetizer or first course. I like to serve it either on a wine and cheese party with Gremolata, gherkins, whole grain mustard, pickled onions and crusty french bread where everyone helps themselves from a large wooden board. Or if you are planning a dinner party, serve a slice of the terrine over a simple garden green salad and a dollop of succulent confit d’onion of onion marmalade, recipe follows.
2 smocked pork shanks, about 3 pounds
10 whole black peppercorns
8 baby gherkins
2 tsp granulated gelatin or gelatin sheets (for 2 cups of liquid)
oil for the brushing
For the Gremolata:
1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
zest of half a lemon
2-3 Tbs of olive oil, depending on the size of the parsley bunch
salt and pepper to taste
Precook the meat: Wash the shanks, place them on a large pot and cover with cold water. Add the black peppercorns,bay leaf and a whole onion and bring to a simmer. Skim the impurities from the surface as much as possible and simmer for 2 1/2hours. Add the whole carrot and boil for 30 more minutes to until the meat is falling of the bone and the carrot is cooked through. Take the shanks and the carrot out and let cool completely. Strain the stock and reserve 2 cups.
Remove the skin and discard. Remove most of the fat but not all, adding a bit of fat will improve the texture of your terrine. Shred the meat and place in a bowl.
Chop 3 of the gherkins and the carrot and add to the meat. Add a pinch of freshly ground pepper and mix well.
Soak the gelatin in 4 tablespoons of water until completely dissolved and add it to the reserved 2 cups of stock.
Assemble the Terrine and Chill: Brush with oil a terrine dish and arrange the remaining 5 baby gherkins on the bottom creating a pattern of your choice. Add the shredded meat carefully and pour the stock on top. Gently cover the terrine dish with several loos layers of plastic warp and press it with a fitting lid. Place a weight over the lid and refrigerate overnight to allow the gelatin to fully set.
Serve: Gently run a sharp knife around the walls of the terrine dish and invert it carefully over a board or a serving platter. Serve with crusty artisanal bread and a variety of condiments such as extra gherkins, whole grain mustard, Onion Confit and gremolata.
Make the Gremolata: Combine the finely chopped parsley, crushed garlic, lemon zest and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, mix well and serve fresh. Gremolata only tastes well served the same day, so don’t make large quantities.
Wine suggestions: Beaujolais-Villages, Beaujolais Crus, Riesling.
For clear broth, use cold water, simmer (nor boil) the ham hocks on low fire with the lid ajar and skim the cooking water as well as possible.
Using some of the fat will improve the texture of the terrine.
Don’t rush, the gelatin needs at least 10 hours to fully set.
I like to serve the parsley sauce on the side, adding it to the meat makes it go bad quicker.