Here's What You Can Substitute For Ham Hocks

Ham hocks, a cut of pork from the bottom of the rear leg, are used for flavoring in a number of different southern dishes such as stews, beans, and leafy green preparations such as collards. Because they aren't yet ubiquitous in all parts of the country, there's a chance that you might have trouble finding them at your local butcher or grocery store. 

This doesn't mean that you should forgo making any soul food recipes that call for ham hocks, because thankfully there are a number of meaty options that you can use as a substitute. Because one of the most enticing aspects of ham hocks is their smoky flavor, bacon (be sure that it's smoked, not just salted) works extremely well as a substitute (via Gourmet Sleuth). Also, because ham hocks are a fatty cut of pork, it makes sense to use a similarly fatty cut like bacon as a substitute.

Other substitutions for ham hocks

If you aren't a pork eater, you can use another type of leg cut as a substitute — a turkey leg! As turkey legs also tend to be full of skin, fat, and tendon just like ham hocks are, and because turkey legs are often smoked, this should make for a good replacement, especially if you're looking for a slightly healthier solution (Fine Cooking). It may lack some of the richness imparted by a ham hock, but that's the price you pay for a healthier meal. 

If you're trying to keep it as close as possible to the original, you can use a smoked pork shank in your recipe (via Food52). While ham hocks come from the back legs of the pig, pork shanks come from the front. There might be slight differences when it comes to size fat content, but otherwise, this solution should guarantee a nearly identical outcome.