About once a year I get a craving for beans and smoked hamhocks with cornbread. It’s overwhelming, really. Over the years, I’d gotten away from the hamhocks because the only ones I could find were nearly solid fat. I moved on to smoked sausage or smoked pork chops. But the other day I was in the local market and spotted smoked hocks in the butcher’s case: “Strange,” I thought. “Those actually look edible.”
So I took a chance, buying a very large specimen. Great northern beans, pinto beans, onions, celery, garlic, the hock, and many hours on a low simmer: perfection! Skimmed off the fat after it cooled and the result from the long simmer is a beautiful cloudy liquor, rich in flavor. Crank some black pepper on top, and a plate of buttered cornbread and honey on the side. It just doesn’t get much better than that for comfort food.