Turnip and Ham Hock Crush
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    Serves 4 as a side dish
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A side dish does not necessarily have to be vegetarian or just consist of vegetables. It’s something that should be fairly simple, but that complements the main course.

I really like family-style dining – placing bowls of food on the table for everyone to help themselves. I like to serve a selection of different foods and sometimes not everything goes together, but that is perhaps the attraction and joy of this kind of dining. It also means that there is something delicious to suit everyone.

I like the robust taste of turnips, and when mixed with ham hock the two work wonderfully together. As a side dish this works well with roast chicken or turkey, braised pheasant, roast partridge, or even roast or pan-fried duck.

photo of Turnip and Ham Hock Crush

Ingredients & Method

  • 1 ham hock, bone-in (about 1kg), smoked or unsmoked
  • 1 stick celery, halved
  • ½ carrot
  • ½ onion, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, left whole (skin on)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 600g (prepared weight) turnips, peeled and sliced
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 200ml white chicken or vegetable stock (you can use the ham stock, but it might be a bit too salty, so I prefer to use chicken or vegetable stock)
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper

First cook the ham hock. Place the ham hock in a large saucepan with the celery, carrot, onion, garlic, bay leaf and spices and cover with cold water. Cover with a lid, then bring to the boil over a medium heat and cook for about 2½ hours or until tender. To test if the ham is cooked, wiggle the bone and if it is loose then it’s ready (if not, cook it a little longer until done). Keep the water topped up throughout cooking to ensure that the ham remains covered.

Once cooked, remove from the heat, transfer the ham hock to a plate and leave to cool for 30 minutes or so while you cook the turnips (discard the stock, vegetables and aromatics – but see also Cook’s Notes as the stock can be kept and used in other recipes, if desired). Shred the warm meat using 2 forks (discarding the bones, fat and sinew) and keep it warm. This recipe makes more cooked ham hock than you will need, so transfer any leftover cooked shredded meat to an airtight container and refrigerate until needed (see Cook’s Notes).

Meanwhile, place the turnip slices in a saucepan with the butter, stock and salt and pepper. Cover and cook over a medium heat for about 30 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and then continue to cook over a medium heat for 5–8 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is dry, stirring regularly.

Remove from the heat and use a potato masher to crush the turnips. Stir in enough of the warm cooked shredded ham to taste, then adjust the seasoning if needed. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes

The stock used for cooking the ham can be reserved and used in another recipe, if you like. Once the ham hock is cooked and removed from the stock, strain the stock and discard the vegetables and aromatics. Leave the stock to cool, then transfer to an airtight container. The stock will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge or it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Use the ham stock to make a delicious split pea and ham soup, or it can be used to make a ham terrine or a casserole such as a goulash. When using the ham stock for other dishes, bear in mind that it is likely to be quite salty.

The ham hock makes more than you’ll need for this recipe, so transfer any cold leftovers to an airtight container, keep refrigerated and use within 3 days. Use the leftover ham for sandwiches, or mix it with cooked hot pasta and serve with a glug of olive oil, some grated Cheddar cheese, crumbled blue cheese or grated fresh Parmesan cheese, and freshly cracked black pepper, plus a few ripped fresh sage leaves, if you like.

If you want to reheat the cold shredded cooked ham, place it in a small saucepan with a little ham, chicken or vegetable stock and reheat gently until piping hot (or use a microwave oven, if you prefer).