Grilled Ham Hocks with Rocket and Mustard Aioli

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I love the way braised meats taste when they are grilled, and this rather esoteric-sounding dish is really very simple in its effect. The bite of the rocket and mustard is a perfect foil to the richness of the ham. If you do not have rocket (arugula) and radicchio, use any bitter greens from the endive-chicory family, and maybe some wilted red cabbage for color.

Ingredients

  • 4 ham hocks
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup Dijon-style mustard
  • ½ cup aioli
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 pinches freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 heads radicchio, leaves separated
  • 4 cups loosely packed rocket leaves, washed, spun-dried

Method

Put the ham hocks, carrots, onion, celery, and bouquet garni in a pot. Add water to cover by 6 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer uncovered until the hocks are tender when pierced with a skewer, about 2 hours. Skim off any scum that forms on the surface. While the hocks are cooking, skim off ¼ cup of the fat that is on the surface and mix it with the thyme.

Mix the mustard and aioli. Cover and let stand 1 hour for the flavors to develop.

When the hocks are cooked, remove them and coat with the thyme mixture. Let marinate for 1 hour.

Start a charcoal fire or heat the broiler.

Grill the hocks, turning them often, over a medium fire until they are heated through and crisp on the outside, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice with salt and pepper. Whisk in the oil. Put the radicchio leaves in a bowl, pour over half the dressing, and toss. Grill or broil the leaves for 1 minute, turning them once.

Put the radicchio around the edges of hot plates. Toss the rocket in the remaining dressing and put in the center of the plates. Put the hocks in the center of the rocket. Spoon some of the mustard sauce over the hocks and serve the rest separately.

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