Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

Now that the leaves have started falling from the trees, my slow cooker (or crockpot if you’re reading this in America) is really earning its keep. I love a slow cooker recipe, being able to throw something together in the morning  and come home to something hearty and warming in the evening is an autumn/winter life saver! This week I made a Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese using a ham hock I’d bought for just £3.50. I cooked it in the slow cooker, stirred it through some macaroni cheese, baked it in the oven and made my family very happy indeed.

Recipe: Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

A ham hock comes into its own when you cook it for hours. You know its done when it falls off the bone. It’s insanely cheap and it often used to make ham and pea soup with. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just needs long, slow cooking. I’m a bit obsessed with ham hocks these days, they seem like such good value and the boys seem to really like anything I make with them, like this Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock.

This Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese is the kind of thing you’d find being sold for £15 a portion in a hipster dive bar in a fashionably shabby part of town. It’s the kind of made ahead meal you could make for friends and family for a weekend feast. It’s hearty, it’s warming and it’s delicious. My family adored me when I put this in front of them.

Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

This recipe makes enough for four people.

Coke or diet coke, about a litre
Ham hock, uncooked
200g dried macaroni pasta
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
Approx one pint of milk, maybe more, maybe less
100g mature cheddar cheese
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper
30g breadcrumbs

How to make Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese:
Put your ham hock in your slow cooker and pour over your coke or diet coke until it’s just about covered. Turn the slow cooker on high and cook for at least 5 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.

Once your ham hock is cooked, take the meat and cap of fat off it and shred the meat with two forks. Discard the bones and fat, or give them to your grateful dog.

You will have probably enough meat to eke out two portions of this dish, but if you’re feeling generous like I was, then use all the meat in the one dish. If you want to be less generous (and the next time I make this, I’m going to be less generous), set aside half of the ham hock, dribble over a little bit of the cooking juices and freeze, ready to be defrosted next time you want to make this.

To make the macaroni cheese, melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted, tip in the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Mix until it’s a paste and then cook the flour out for a minute. Add a splash of milk and stir until it turns into a paste again. Keep adding milk in splashes and mixing until it starts to turn into a silky sauce. The amount of milk will vary, but I’d say you need at least a pint of milk.

Leave your sauce to bubble gently on the hob while you add 200g of pasta to another saucepan of boiling water. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

While your pasta cooks, grate your cheese and add it to your sauce. Set aside 20g of the Parmesan to top your bake with. Stir, stir, stir your sauce and season with salt and pepper. I also like to add ground chilli flakes for a bit of a gentle kick, but you can leave that out if you prefer. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning; if it’s not cheesy enough for you, now is a good time to add more cheese. Now would be a good time to pre-heat your oven to 220°.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it really well and tip it into your cheese sauce; stir that through and add your shredded chunks of ham hock. Stir that through and pour into a baking dish. Level the top with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and the remaining Parmesan cheese; pop it into the oven for 25 minutes, or until it’s brown and bubbly on top. Take it out of the oven and put to one side for five minutes. Serve with a big salad and crusty bread.

Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

If you want to feed your friends and family something that’s like a big plate of hugs, this ham hock macaroni cheese is the dish for you. It’s a delicious, economical, hearty hug of a meal.

Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I was sent some Marques De Caceres wine to use in a recipe. All images and opinions are my own.

I really enjoy cooking with wine. Not just the kind of cooking where you’ve got a glass of wine on the go to keep you company while you stir the pot; but the kind where you use a whole bottle and slowly cook a piece of meat until it virtually falls apart. This week I made an unctuous Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock using virtually a whole bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé, and it was worth the wait.

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I’ve recently decided to make more of an effort to buy better quality meat. So this week I popped to our local butchers, Little Pigs in Didsbury to pick up some sausages and chicken. I spied a ham hock for £3.50. I’ve never cooked with ham hock before, but after a chat with the butcher he gave me a few tips and off I went to have a think about what I was going to do with it.

I decided that low and slow would be the way to go with my ham hock. Braised in a bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé and some herbs for three hours, I had a feeling it would be good. I was almost right, it was great!

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I thought a bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé would work well with the ham hock. It’s a crisp rosé made from a blend of Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes and it has hints of redcurrants and aniseed. It’s a lovely, easy drinking rosé, and just the thing to drink on a summer evening.

My Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock does take some time to cook to perfection, but the results are well worth taking some time over.

Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

1 red onion, sliced
1 Ham Hock
A bottle of Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé
3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
2 bay leaves
10 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 teaspoon of pink peppercorns
2 tablespoons of runny honey
1 tablespoon of English mustard

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock


Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Wash your ham hock under running water, if you don’t do this it will be so salty it will be virtually inedible. Put your ham hock in a large lidded casserole dish and add the sliced red onion, wine, garlic, bay leaves, thyme and peppercorns. You might need to top up the liquid in the pot up with some water, it should just about cover the ham hock.

Put the lid on the dish and put in the oven for 3 hours. Make sure you check it every hour or so, adding extra water if it needs it and turning the meat in the pot. When it’s ready the meat should just fall off the bone.

Remove the meat from the dish and set aside. Sieve the liquid in the casserole dish into a pan and reduce the amount of liquid by about half. This just means simmer it until there is half the liquid in the pan than when you started. Add the honey and mustard and whisk them into the sauce.

Take the meat off the bone and remove the layer of fat from the meat. Lay the meat in a roasting tin. Pour over the reduced liquid and put it back in the oven for 20 minutes, turning and basting the meat half way through. Remove from the oven and serve with a drizzle of the sticky sauce.

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock

I served my Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock with creamy polenta and asparagus; but it would be great on buttery mashed potato or served in a similar way to pulled pork.

For just £3.50 we got a really good meal for four people. The rosé really helped to give the rich glossy sauce a distinctive flavour. For such a delicate wine, the Marques De Caceres Rosado Rosé made such a robust sauce. Delicious!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try my slow cooked beef in red wine.

Recipe: Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock