Cook or Cure!

After an amazing Christmas break with our family, we returned home feeling relaxed, refreshed and looking forward to an additional mini break at home.

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Unfortunately that feeling vanished very soon!  Gary discovered that I hadn’t closed the freezer door properly prior to our departure and everything had begun to defrost!

First job, stock take, make a list of everything that could be salvaged, dispose of what couldn’t, and then work out what to do with a freezer full of meat, seafood and poultry!

Idea’s began to form as I worked through it all, most would have to be cooked and then could be re-frozen.  I realised that I could also, smoke and cure a little as well.

I had duck marylands, I would do Confit Duck and then freeze ready for use.  There was one duck breast, it would be cured, airdried and then sliced/diced and frozen.


Pork hocks that had already been cured and smoked would become Pea and Ham Soup ready for the cooler months (I now have 17 double portions frozen down!), the hocks that had not yet been cured and smoked, would be, and then they would be frozen down for other uses – I think that we have enough pea and ham soup for the time being!

Pea and Ham Soup with mint
Category: Entree, Light Meal, Soup, Starter
Keyword: Gluten free soup, Ham, Ham Hock, Ham Hock Soup, Pea and Ham Soup, Peas, Winter Warmer
Author: sbaskitchen
  • 1 smoked bacon hock
  • 1 onion
  • 1 leek
  • 1 sticks of celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 4 ltrs water
  • 400 g split peas
  • 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 stalks of thyme
  • Salt
  • Course ground black pepper
  1. Soak the peas overnight.
  2. Wash all the herbs and vegetables,
  3. Peel and trim the vegetables, reserving the peel and offcuts.
  4. Dice the vegetables and set aside.
  5. Place the hock, vegetable offcuts and peel, and water into a large pan. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer.
  6. Simmer until the meat is falling off the bone.
  7. Remove the bone from the stock and then pull the meat from the bone and discard the bone, fat and rind.
  8. Chop/shred the meat into bite size pieces and set aside in the refrigerator.
  9. Strain the stock and refrigerate. When chilled, lift fat from the top, discarding the fat, retaining the stock.
  10. In a clean pan, heat the olive oil, then add chopped vegetables and sauté gently without coloring.
  11. Drain and rinse the split peas before adding them, together with the bay leaf, thyme and mint to the pan, stir to combine, then add 3 litres of stock and simmer until all vegetables are tender and peas are mushy.

  12. Remove pan from heat, discard bayleaf as well as the stalks from the thyme.
  13. Cool soup slightly and then purée in a blender.
  14. Pour soup in to a clean pan, bring to a gentle simmer, season with salt and pepper, add the chopped meat and then simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  15. Serve hot.

Freeze remaining soup into meal size portions for a quick easy meal.

Be sure to try the soup before adding any salt as the hock stock and hock meat will have already imparted a significant amount of salt to the dish.

If you are on a gluten free diet, make sure that the ham hocks you purchase are gluten free.

If the soup is a little to thick, thin it down with a little of the remaining stock, or some water.


Beef fillet was turned into individual Gluten Free Beef Wellingtons thanks to a wonderful recipe by Ris Lacoste that I found online and adapted, another piece was destined to become the star of a delicious salad meal, other beef was minced for Chilli Con Carne as well as a basic mince recipe that can be portioned and frozen ready to be made into various dishes at a later date.


Lamb backstrap was to become another salad meal, Warm Salad of Sumac Marinated Lamb Backstrap with Chats & Green Beans,

and diced and minced lamb were earmarked for casseroles and curries, and the list goes on.

Warm Salad of Sumac Marinated Lamb Backstrap with Chats & Green Beans


Needless to say, at the end of the process, the freezer was restocked, this time with pre-cooked meals, and I had had more than enough of meat and trying to work out what I should do with it all.

I’m now paranoid, and can be seen backtracking to the freezer just to make sure that I have closed it properly, even though I know that I have!

Until next time

Bon appétit



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