28 August, 2009

Hormel Pickled Pork

The very thought of pickled pork in a jar makes my wife shudder and my daughter gag, but I admit to having a certain fondness for this odd and somewhat out-of-place-in-these-health-conscious-times meaty condiment. Hormel cans several varieties of pickled pork, including pork hocks and "pork tidbits" (shown at left) and pig's feet (not pictured.)

I bought a jar each of the hocks and tidbits, partly from nostalgia because I haven't seen them in stores around me since my hometown A&P closed many years ago. Although in some ways they're just like I remembered them, there are a few differences, and overall I think the quality is a little lower than it used to be.

The pork hocks are boneless cross-sectional slices which include meat, cartilage, fat, and skin. They're cured, slow-cooked to render the cartilage deliciously soft, and packed in vinegar before the jars are sealed and processed. It's easy to fish out a whole slice and enjoy it meat, cartilage, and skin. The vinegar is unseasoned and strong, and it makes for a somewhat bland yet sharp and acidic flavor which almost overwhelms the porky taste but at the same time cuts the nastiest mouth effects of the fat and the flabby skin. That's a picture on the right of a typical slice of hock fresh from the jar. I admit that it looks pretty disgusting, but the taste isn't as bad as all that. I kind of enjoy them even though I don't remember them being as so strongly vinegared.

The tidbits, though, are another story. I bought them because I recalled randomly-cut but decent-sized chunks of pork (both meat and skin) with an overall larger proportion of meat to fat and skin. That's not anything like what I ended up with. Tidbits these days are tiny pieces of porky debris, mostly fat and skin with occasional bits of cured pork, in the same very strong vinegar solution used for the hocks. they were rather disappointing. I'd buy the pork hocks again, but I think I'll take a pass on the tidbits from now on.


Kim Sisco said...

Just wondering where you possible found them!? I can't find Hormel Pickled Pork Hocks ANYWHERE and they are my favorite.

Dave said...

Hi, Kim.

I buy Hormel pickled hocks at ShopRite, a New Jersey-based supermarket with lots of stores in the Northeast.

I recommend getting in touch with Hormel through their website, www.hormel.com. The people at Hormel are very friendly and helpful and it's likely that they can tell you where you can find their Pickled Pork Hocks near you.

alex g said...

Out of curiosity how is it eaten? Cold? Warmed up? Sandwich? Pasta?

Dave said...

alex g -

I just eat them right out of the jar as is.