“Cider isn’t just great for drinking, it’s also perfect for cooking. Unsmoked ham hocks are not often used for cooking but trust me, it’s worth giving them a try. You might need to order them ahead of time from your butcher.” Rachel Khoo, Rachel Khoo's Kitchen Notebook Melbourne
- 2 ham hocks (about 1.2-1.8 kg in total)
- 4 small green apples, washed
- 400 ml cider
- 150 g sour cream or thick Greek yoghurt, to serve
- 350 g (2⅓ cups) wholemeal flour, plus a little extra for dusting
- 3 tsp instant yeast
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- 1 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 200 ml lukewarm water
- 200 g Romanesco cauliflower (about ½ small)
- 2 celery stalks
- 1 small zucchini (courgette)
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- large pinch sea salt
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) cider vinegar
- 80 ml (⅓ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
- 1 tsp honey
- 2 small green crisp apples
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time 1 hour
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Place the ham hocks in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes, then drain and rinse the ham hocks to remove the impurities.
Core the apples, then place in a large casserole with the ham hocks and the cider - the dish should be just large enough to fit the hocks snugly. Cover and bake for 2½-3 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.
Meanwhile, to make the pita bread dough, combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. In a separate bowl, whisk together the honey, oil and water until the honey dissolves. Pour into the well and stir until the dough comes together. If the mixture seems dry, add a little extra warm water - it should be a little sticky. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place in a clean, lightly oiled bowl, cover and stand in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
To make piccalilli, break the cauliflower into large florets. Use a mandoline or large sharp knife to thinly slice the cauliflower, celery and zucchini and place in a large bowl. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the spices and salt together. Stir in the vinegar, oil, mustard and honey, then pour over the vegetables and toss until well combined. Just before serving, core and thinly slice the apples, add to the piccalilli and toss to combine.
When the ham hocks are tender, remove from the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 250ºC and place a heavy-based baking tray inside to preheat. Remove the hocks from the pan and set aside until cool enough to handle. Lightly mash the apples in the pan until well combined.
Divide the pita dough into 12 balls. Roll out on a lightly floured work surface into rounds about 5 mm-thick. Place half the pita rounds on the preheated baking tray in the oven and bake for 6-7 minutes or until golden and puffed. Repeat with the remaining pita rounds.
Remove and discard the skin and bone from the hocks. Using a fork, shred the meat and remove any gristle. Return the shredded meat to the pan with the apple and cider mixture and stir over medium heat until warmed through.
To serve, split open the pita breads and stuff with warm shredded hock and apple mixture and piccalilli, then top with a dollop of sour cream or yoghurt.
• It’s important to preheat the baking tray in a super-hot oven when baking the pita breads otherwise they won’t puff up.
• The ham hock filling can be made in advance and eaten cold (or reheated gently in a frying pan).
Photography by Prue Ruscoe. Styling by Lucy Tweed. Food preparation by Leanne Kitchen. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
Orange and blue Kaleido platters by Hay from Corporate Culture. Coral lattice napkin from Aura by Tracie Ellis. Enamel bowl with blue rim from Citta Design. Jett creamer jug from Freedom Australia.