Ham Hock Pot Roast

The newest crowd-pleaser here at my house is cheap, hearty, and delicious. Using an ingredient I didn’t ever think I would use, I invite you to put a wonderfully flavored meat and potatoes meal on the dinner table for less that three dollars a person.

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If you have an aversion to pig parts, this might me the best start to a conversion. If you are in Chicago, I recommend buying your smoked hocks at Gene’s Sausage shop in Lincoln Square. They have two sections – small and large – for this recipe, you want the large ones. I recommend, one hock per every two guests.

Here’s what you need and how to put it together:

2-3 hocks

1 lb of golden potatoes, peeled and halved

2 large yellow onions, coped rough

8 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2″ pieces

3 fresh bay leaves

handful of thyme

ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Soak hocks in water over night

2. Add everything to dutch oven, cover with water, and season liberally with pepper

3. Simmer on stove top for 20 minutes, skimming any scum

4. Cover with wet wax paper and roast in 325 degree oven for 2.5 – 3 hours.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tangerine Granita

This winter I have enjoyed feeding my friends and family some of the heartiest and most comforting food I have ever made. And, while that has been great, it can leave my guests so full that there isn’t room for dessert.

Aside from models (and I am really only guessing on this contention) NO ONE wants to say that they are too full for dessert. Even if what is being served is not your favorite kind or if it sounds just terrifying (i.e. peppers in one’s ice cream) – you always want to at least try some dessert.

The solution is a light and sweet finish to the meal that happens to also possess some important digestive properties . . . granita. What’s granita?┬áBasically, a slushy that has been elevated from “snow-cone” to “dinner party.” It can be made with anything you like but most recipes I’ve seen use a seasonal citrus and a loaded up simple syrup.

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How I decided on mine? Well, I was accidently in Whole Foods recently and noticed some cool looking citrus fruits (talk about a budgetary nightmare). They just looked delicious. So, I asked the guy stocking the produce if he would cut one up so I could try it. I thought, what the hell? if he says no I probably won’t overpay for a fancy orange. ┬áBut, thankfully he agreed. Thus, I gleefully overpaid for a fancy orange . . . actually, half a dozen of the striped tangerines.

The recipe for this is pretty straight forward:

The first step is to juice all of the citrus and match the volume with your favorite fresh-squeezed orange juice. Next, go to the stovetop with a heavy bottomed sauce pan and stir together over medium-high heat, equal parts sugar and water. Once the liquid is clear, add a bay leaf, cinnamon stick, handful of basil leaves, simmering to reduce by a quarter.

Once the syrup reduces, pour it through a sieve into the container of juice. Freeze the whole mixture for at least four hours.

To serve, rake the frozen block with the tines of a fork and plate.