I have shared my own Humba Recipe at the request of a father who wanted to cook for his kids. This time let me share a recipe cooked by my sister, Lorna in Chicago which she calls Lorna’s Humba- Pig Hocks as Comfort Food. I bet my sister is missing the Philippine so much like some of you, my dear readers.
This is not the traditional Humba recipe that mothers from the Visayas region of the Philippines teach their children. I’ve taken the influences from Filipino, Chinese, Indian, and American home kitchens to create my own version of this braised Humba that can take two to four hours’ cooking time. Of course, if you use a pressure cooker, the fragrant Humba cooks in half the time. If it’s a slow cooker you’re using, an overnight process is just as delicious.
Finding the right meat, and I don’t mean pork belly either, meant going to my neighborhood Polish deli, Deli 4 U, across the street from my suburban home in Illinois — and enjoying the thick, succulent slabs of not-very-fattening but definitely gelatinous pig hocks. Should I say I am in Pig Heaven? Since there were no dried Azucena flowers (tuberoses) available as a garnish, I used dried lily flowers, an extremely delectable substitute from San Francisco’s Chinatown.
According to MonsterGuide.net: “Pork hocks are also called pork shanks, Schweinshaxe, or Eisbein. Pork hocks are sliced from the hind leg or pork foreleg between the knee and the ankle. This is a tough meat as it is a part of a “work” muscle, but it is very tasty though not tender. Although not as popular as pork ribs, it is still a well-liked meat. Pork hocks, and pork in general, are available as natural, or organic, meat.”
Before we start, let’s review the term, “bouquet gaarni,” a remnant from my B.S. Hotel and Restaurant Administration college days at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.
BOUQUET GAARNI: A bundle of spices and herbs, the aromatics, are placed in a square of muslin cloth and tied together with butcher twine (“lambo”). I use a muslin bag sachet normally used for tea and I fill it up with my aromatics. If you don’t have any of the above but you have a tea strainer, you can use this, too.
I prefer using a bouquet gaarni instead of mixing the aromatics with the pig hocks because I don’t like biting into peppercorns or cardamon seeds. The bouquet gaarni is braised with the rest of the ingredients and is removed before eating.