You don’t have to be Irish to think of boiled cabbage and ham as the ultimate comfort food. But you may wish to avoid agitating a true Irishman by using ham hocks to prepare the dish. This part of the pig leg can be mostly fat and bone — depending on region — but both elements, plus the meat, are loaded with a rich, smoky flavor.
Things You'll Need
- Ham hocks
- Large pot
- Chicken broth (optional)
- Bay leaf
- Softened, chopped onions (optional)
Put the ham hocks in a large pot and submerge them in water. Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the flame to a simmer. Cook the ham hocks until the meat is falling off the bone, or for about two to three hours. Check the water occasionally and replenish it if necessary. Remove the ham hocks with tongs and let the meat cool. Remove the meat and put it in the refrigerator until you add it to the cabbage.
Rinse the cabbage. Cut the cabbage in half, then into quarters. Shred the quarters crosswise with a sharp knife. Place the cabbage into the same pot and cover it with water or for added flavor, chicken broth. Add a bay leaf, salt and pepper.
Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and simmer the cabbage for about five minutes before tasting it. Simmer it longer if it’s still too crunchy, but don’t overcook the cabbage, either. Cabbage is considered done when it's tender, not mushy.
Drain the water from the pot. Return the cabbage to the pot. Season the cabbage if you like with salt and pepper. Add some softened, chopped onions for extra flavor.
Add the cooked ham to the pot and stir. Heat under a low flame until the cabbage and ham are thoroughly heated.
Tips & Warnings
- In a pinch, you can use cubed ham — store-bought or cut up from a cooked ham — but it won’t impart the full-bodied flavor of ham hocks.
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