This is my 36th winter living in a cold, snowy place. You’d think after 36 winters, I’d be used to it. I’m not. After a childhood in Wyoming, college in Idaho and adult years in Utah and Colorado, I still vow every winter will be my last in a cold place. Last week it was -17 degrees F. That’ not okay. But since my husband has decided he loves Colorado and won’t live anywhere else, I’ll probably spend many more winters here since I do actually like my husband. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE Colorado. We have a ton of sunshine, beautiful mountains, hiking trails and lakes. But it’s hard to remember that when I’m in the school parking lot turned ice rink trying to drop the kids off in the morning.
That said, one thing that saves me every winter is soup (and many mugs of hot chocolate). We have soup at least once a week in the winter. Last week we were getting to the end of our meat supply from our local rancher. Toward the end we always have a ton of beef steaks, beef liver and a strange cut I put in the back of my freezer for the year; the pork hock. I actually had to watch a few YouTube videos to see what this sucker was. Basically it’s a pig leg. Yep. And as far as I can tell, It’s different from a ham hock in that the ham hock is smoked while the pork hock is raw.
You guys, I now have a new favorite cut of meat. Pork has always been my favorite but the pork hock… AMAZING! It’s tender, juicy and cooks so easily in soup. I was a little confused about how to cook it but decided to just throw it in the slow cooker and see what happened. Yep. I just stuck that big ole’ leg on top of my other ingredients and pressed start. It worked perfectly. This is the best soup I’ve had in a long time. I made double planning to freeze half but I ended up eating the rest over the next few days. I also hid the jar in the back of the fridge so no one else would find it. I do that sometimes.
So… I initially tried to remove the skin from the hock with it raw but quickly realized that would earn me a trip to the ER to get a finger sewn back on. Thankfully it didn’t work because cooking it with the skin and fat on kept the moisture in the meat. Plus, it was really simple to remove both the skin and the fat once it was cooked. No limbs were in danger.
I was so tempted to just start gnawing the meat right off the bone (I had the visual in my head of Prince Phillip’s Father in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty eating the turkey leg. Anyone else? Apparently even as a small child I was easily tempted by juicy meat).
I pureed this soup because I love creamy soups. It’s also a great way to get my kids to eat veggies. My daughter loves veggies raw or roasted but isn’t a huge fan of veggies in soup. Pureeing them solves this problem.
I guess I can handle Colorado winters if it means I get to keep having soup. And hot chocolate…. and long leggings with pockets and over-sized sweatshirts. Apparently there actually are things about winter I love.