The week kicked off with ham hock, mash, greens and carrots. I cooked the hock in the slow cooker, of course. I used this recipe as a guide and after soaking the hock overnight I placed it in the slow cooker with enough water to cover, a chopped up onion, a couple of chopped up celery stalks, 4/5 peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves and about 450g of split peas. I then cooked everything on low whilst I went out to work, so say for 8/9 hours or so.
Once I returned home I got the accompaniments going; mash (made from baked potatoes), greens (cooked with garlic, a little water, a little butter and salt & pepper) and some carrots (home-grown by a friend who I used to work with and simply boiled). To prepare the hock for serving, I removed it from the cooker and scraped off the skin and fat and portioned it up; enough for us to eat that evening, some for us to eat later in the week and some for the pea and ham soup that I was going to make with the cooking liquid (which I left to cool a little whilst we ate dinner).
Pea and Ham Soup
After dinner I removed the bay leaves and the peppercorns from the cooking liquid and then spooned all the fat off (these ham hocks are fatty). I then blitzed it until it was a little smoother (but not totally smooth as I like a little texture in my soup) and portioned it into a few freezer bags before distributing some of the ham hock into each. So, out of a £1.89 ham hock I got 5 decent portions of soup and 4 portions of dinner. Split peas are 68p for 500g and the rest of the ingredients cost around 40p, tops. That’s 33p a serving (extra for the veg accompaniments when served as dinner) and each one was delicious. In fact this pea and ham soup is one of the best I’ve had!
Courgette and Leek Gratin
Although I didn’t get a marrow this week, I did get some rather nice looking courgettes and leeks from my parents. Wanting a recipe that would really showcase the veg, rather than just cook them up as sides, I decided to go with a gratin. I kinda used this recipe as a base as I had a small tub of soured cream about to go out of date, but I did make some changes to the recipe.
I prepared the soured cream mix using a small tub (150g) of soured cream, 100g of cheddar (grated), 2 garlic cloves (sliced), a handful of chopped parsley and some pepper. I then mixed this in with 4 very small leeks (say, 1 large) and 3 courgettes which I had sliced. I then spread the veg and soured cream mix into a oven-proof dish before topping with a breadcrumb mix made from 2 slices of bread and 25g of grated cheese. This then went into the oven for 20 mins at 200C.
This was also delicious! The only problem was that we wanted to eat it all, as I had only served it with some bread! It really would have been better if I’d served it with some fish, or some lamb. It’s a bit difficult to cost this one up as I’d received the main ingredients for free and I think I’ll just leave it that this is a good way to use up any surplus veg as you could use any kind of cream, herbs and cheese that you’ve got knocking around.