My local butcher in Queens always stocks a wide selection of different cuts of meat. On a recent cold morning, I spied an interesting display in the case: fresh ham hocks. I am a lover of soups and stews, and have used smoked hocks for flavoring in the past. But I’d never cooked with fresh ones—although I’ve always been intrigued by the possibility.
It’s been a cold winter so far in New York, and I was in the mood for a hearty stew—and I had lots of raw materials in my larder. So I decided to brown and then braise the hocks. In went a supply of fennel, onions, garlic, chicken stock, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms and dried chanterelles. Two hours or so later, it was ready to serve.
I chose a zesty white to match with it: the Soave Re Midas 2009 from Cantina de Soave, a new wine made by the quality-oriented cooperative. It is made entirely from Garganega (a native grape of northeastern Italy’s Veneto region), fermented and then aged three months in stainless steel. Very fresh, it featured flavors of tropical fruit, ripe pear and hints of almond, with notes of vanilla and smoke—all backed by vibrant acidity. It was a fine match for the hearty stew, which I ladled over a mix of Israeli couscous to soak up the juices. I rated it 87 points, non-blind, and at only $10 a bottle, this crisp Soave was a heck of a bargain as well.
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