Ham Hock in Beer and Honey (Golonka)

Golonka w piwie z miodem

Ham hock (also known as Pork Knuckle) is an amazing cut of meat: inexpensive, tasty yet slightly unappreciated. But in Central Europe, it gets all the love. 

In Poland, this pork cut is known as ‘golonka’ and trust me – we know how to make the most of it. 

In this recipe, Pork Knuckle is cured in brine, cooked slowly until soft and then baked with dark porter beer, honey and mustard. The meat is fragrant and tender, while the skin stays golden and crispy. 

For the full list of ingredients & detailed instructions, please see the recipe card at the end of this post. But before you scroll, there’s important stuff to know below.

Thanks to the multi-step process of curing, cooking and baking, the meat is extremely tender and the fat renders into the sauce. Yes, it does take time – but most of it doesn’t require much attention at all. And the results are worth it.

The flavours compliment each other nicely. The bitter taste of beer, the sharpness of mustard, the sweetness of honey and, of course, meaty aromas giving that punch of umami. 

Baked ham hock like this is a perfect meal for autumn or winter dinners. Yes, it’s calorific, but absolutely perfect to recover from a long hike or a skiing session. 

For more meaty dishes, why not try these next?

Do you need any special ingredients to make these Ham Hocks?

First off, you’ll need some nice Ham Hocks (on a bone), either front or rear. In general, rear hocks are larger and fattier. It’s nice to serve a Pork Hock as a whole, therefore pick a size according to your appetite level.

In this recipe we’re using a dark, Baltic Porter beer for marinating. If you can’t find it, other porters or stouts will work just as well.

The rest of the ingredients shouldn’t be troublesome in sourcing, you’ll find them in any major supermarket.

What should you serve with these Pork Knuckles?

Traditionally, Pork Knuckles like these are paired with potatoes (boiled, baked or in a form of a Potato Salad). If you’re not into spuds, a few slices of fresh bread make a fine pairing as well.

For a refreshing sour kick, serve some Dill Pickles, Braised Sauerkraut or Marinated Wild Mushrooms on a side. For dipping, try a horseradish sauce or mustard.

And… a meal like this wouldn’t be complete with a glass of cold Polish beer!

Can you make these Pork Hocks another way?

I wouldn’t recommend changing the overall cooking method, but when it comes to the marinade – feel free to improvise. 

Ham Hocks can be cooked in a crock pot / slow cooker, but since I haven’t tried it myself – I cannot guide you on how to do this. If you gave it a try, please do let me know.

What diets are these Ham Hocks suitable for?

These Ham hocks in Honey and Beer are suitable for those who follow a dairy-free diet.

How long can you keep these Pork Hocks in the fridge?

Once served, it can stay out at room temperature for up to 2-3 hours.

You can refrigerate these ham hocks for 2-3 days, ideally wrapped in cling film – so they won’t dry out.

Can I freeze these Honey & Beer Pork Knuckles?

When still as a whole, these Ham hocks aren’t suitable for freezing. The skin will turn gummy, and they won’t be as tasty.

But if you have some leftover meat, shred it with a fork and place in a freezer-friendly container. Cover it with a lid and stick a label on it. Write today’s date and describe its contents.  

How do I reheat these Ham Hocks?

From chilled: If the ham hock is still whole, place it on a baking tray and wrap some aluminum foil around it. Reheat in the oven set at 320°F (160°C) for 20 minutes or so. Take the foil off and bake for another 5 minutes. 

If the meat has been shredded, it’s easier to reheat it on a non-stick frying pan. Just fry it up for a few minutes, stirring continuously, until hot throughout. You can use this meat to make something new: add it to a soup or a sandwich – or mix it with pasta, rice or buckwheat.

From frozen: To thaw the leftover shredded ham hock meat, remove the box from the freezer and leave it in the fridge overnight. You can then reheat it on a frying pan and/or use in another dish (suggestions ‘From chilled’ section above).

Smacznego!

Ham Hock cooked with beer, honey and mustard (Polish Golonka)
Ham Hock cooked in honey and beer

Ham Hock (Golonka) in Beer, Honey and Mustard

Yield: 2-4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Additional Time: 2 days
Total Time: 2 days 6 hours 25 minutes

In this recipe, Pork Knuckle is cured in brine, cooked slowly until soft and then baked with dark porter beer, honey and mustard. The meat is fragrant and tender, while the skin stays golden and crispy. 

Ingredients

  • 2 ham hocks (roughly 1.1 lb, 500 g each) - front or rear

For Brine Curing

  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 parsley root, can be substituted with celery root
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 bay leaves - fresh or dry
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 8 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 4 tbsp salt

For Cooking

  • 4 bay leaves - fresh or dry
  • 6 allspice berries
  • 8 cloves
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 parsley root, can be substituted with celery root
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 white onion

For Baking

  • 1 bottle (17 fl oz, 500 ml) Baltic Porter beer, can be substituted with another dark beer e.g. stout
  • 3 tbsp hot mustard [‘Rosyjska’ (Russian style) mustard or Dijon]
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2-3 rosemary sprigs
  • 2-3 thyme sprigs
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • 2 white onions

Instructions

Step 1: Brine Curing (2 Days Before)

  1. For curing in brine, you’ll need a bowl large enough to fit both ham hocks. I use a large (3 quarts/3 litres or more) cooking pot, the same one I’ll use later for cooking.
  2. Peel one carrot, one parsley root and onion, slice them into pieces and add to the pot. 
  3. Cut a head of garlic halved crosswise, there is no need to peel it. Add one half of that head into the pot. Add the spices: 4 bay leaves, 6 allspice berries, 8 cloves, 10 black peppercorns and 4 tablespoons of salt.
  4. Pour cold water in, 6 cups (roughly 1.4 litre) to start. Mix everything together with a spoon, until the salt dissolves completely.
  5. Look closely at the ham hock’s skin. Is it hairy? If so, shave the hair (yes, I’m not joking) with a disposable shaver or burn them off with a cooking torch.
  6. Place the meat into the pot filled with water. Are ham hocks fully submerged? If not, pour some more water in.
  7. Cover the pot with cling film and store for 48 hours in the fridge.


Step 2: Cooking

  1. Remove the ham hocks, rinse them with cold water and set aside. 
  2. Using a strainer, pour the water out. Keep the veggies, throw the spices away.
  3. Return the hocks back to the empty pot. Add in the spices, the same set as before - but without salt (4 bay leaves, 6 allspice berries, 8 cloves, 10 black peppercorns). Pour fresh water in, enough to cover the meat. Cook on low heat for at least 2 hours. Cover the pot with a lid, leaving a small gap.
  4. General rule of thumb is: 2 hours of cooking for 2.2 lb (1 kg) of meat. Mid-cooking, add a new set of peeled, chopped veggies.
  5. Once 2 hours are up, poke the hocks with a fork. They should be soft, if they’re not - continue cooking for another 30 minutes.


Step 3: Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 320°F (160°C) - without ‘fan assist’ option turned on.
  2. Move the ham hocks into a deep, oven-friendly dish or tray (dutch oven is perfect for this).
  3. If you like your 'golonka' scored, now it’s a good time to do so. Wait for the meat to cool, then score fat in a diamond pattern.
  4. Pour in the contents of 1 porter beer bottle into a pouring jug (can be a bowl, a cooking pot). Add in 3 tablespoons of mustard and 3 tablespoons of honey. Blend together well with a whisk.
  5. Pour the mixture over the ham hocks. Most of it will end up at the bottom of the baking dish, and that’s okay. Season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  6. Fill the gaps in the dish with a few rosemary and thyme springs and a few garlic cloves. Cut onions in half, place them in the dish.
  7. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil (with the shiny side on the inside). 
  8. Place in the oven heated to 320°F (160°C) for 2 hours.
  9. After 2 hours remove the foil and continue baking for another hour. Throughout baking, baste the meat with marinade from time to time. As ham hock bake, the marinade will thicken and it will stick better to the meat.
  10. Serve hot with dill pickles, potatoes and a glass of cold beer.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 465Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 23mgSodium: 7235mgCarbohydrates: 67gFiber: 14gSugar: 23gProtein: 14g

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Kasia Kronenberger

Kasia Kronenberger changes the (often unfavourable) perceptions of Polish food through digital storytelling. She creates purpose-led, bite-sized videos, exploring her cultural identity through food. As a self-taught home cook, Kasia enjoys trying out recipes from old Polish cookbooks. She’s keen of all things smoked or fermented.


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