Making a pig’s leg of it

Lots of food bloggers are being real nice to Valskitchen these days. Thanks to Caroline at her famous site Bibliocook for a flattering mention. I’m afraid this photo of a pig’s leg isn’t really up there with the cute cookies and the boiled egg. If you can show me a photo of sexy swine shanks, then I want to see it! A new food blog in


is causing a stir (sorry!) by sharing their treasured Italian food recipes. I have had the amazingly thin and crispy pizzas from La Cucina, they are authentic and yummy. Read more at Laura Boland’s site.

My favourite butcher Edward Hick always likes to push some new piggy products at me when I shop at his market stall on weekends. These shanks were looking lonely as trading was coming to an end for the day. These boys, Edward assures me, only need a gentle simmer for two hours before eating. Their smoky smell is strong and has had my son Number 1 bugging me to cook the blighters, please!

Puritans would only ever cook a collar of bacon for bacon and cabbage. When does bacon become ham and ham become bacon? Answers, on an e-mail please. At home we always soaked the ham/bacon overnight to reduce the saltiness of it. I’m soaking my pig’s feet right now. The cabbage you use can be any curly or flat green type. Wash it and take out any big spines. I did this a lot growing up. We would have had bacon and cabbage on Saturday afternoons as it’s something that takes a while from start to finish but doesn’t take any effort. Bacon and cabbage is best served with boiled potatoes and white sauce. Quantities are guess work here, you can tell by looking at meat if it’s enough for you.

Bacon and Cabbage

You will need

1 piece collar of bacon, or shanks like I have here

I head of green cabbage, washed and de-veined

Potatoes, nice floury ones

For the white sauce:

25g flour

25g butter

400ml milk

Salt and pepper

Leave the bacon to soak overnight in cold water. I don’t think the world will end if you don’t do this though. Put the meat into a large pot and cover it with fresh water. Bring it to a boil, spooning off any scum that forms. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook the meat for approx 2 hours for a 1kilo piece.

1 ½ hours later cook the potatoes.

Prepare the cabbage. Take the meat out of the water and leave aside on a plate. Bring the water back to a fast simmer and put the cabbage in to cook. Seven minutes is the maximum time needed to cook cabbage in this way, it will have bite like this. If you prefer softer cabbage keep cooking but beware that any noxious gasses in the vegetable will be released after the magic seven minutes. Drain the cabbage into a colander and chop it roughly with a knife. Keep it warm and make the white sauce.

Melt the butter in a pot and add the flour, cook for two minutes and stir till well combined. Slowly add the milk to combine and stop when the consistency looks like thick soup. Season with only a little salt and pepper. Remember the meat is very salty.

Slice up the bacon and serve with some of the cabbage and potatoes with lots of butter and white sauce poured over.

Tip: the cooking water will make great pea and ham/bacon soup at a late date so strain it and freeze it

4 thoughts on “Making a pig’s leg of it

  1. Well, I guess the reason people normally use collar of bacon is because there is way more meat. You need to eat this East European style with one shank per person. But, other than that, it’s yummy.

  2. Hi
    Bacon is when the whole side of the pig is cured in one go, while ham is when only the leg is cured, think parma 🙂

  3. Hi Adrian
    Thanks for that. Also am thinking Christmas ham, yum. I used to sneak to the kitchen to eat it when I was a vegetarian on Xmas day when everyone was glued to the TV or asleep. It was always the ham that was hard to stay away from

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