Recently, during a KCBS competition “De Vliegende Hollander BBQ Competition 2022” in Terneuzen (the Netherlands), I gave a great demo to visitors on how to BBQ in a Dutch Oven. I had some delicious pigwings (ham hocks) available that day, and besides a wonderfully smoked version, I decided to make a braised version in the Dutch Oven.
The braised version tasted so tender, delicious, and incredibly flavorful that I often got asked for the recipe. So, here I am sharing it with you because there really is no secret to it.
Pigwings / Oerhammen:
First, a brief explanation of the term Pigwings or ham hocks because many people may not be familiar with them. You won’t find pigwings at the supermarket (in fact, there are many things you won’t find at the supermarket, so I always recommend finding a good local butcher). Pigwings, also known as Ham Hocks in English, are the lower portion of the pig’s front leg, roughly equivalent to the elbow joint down to about halfway to the forearm.
A Dutch Oven has been used for hundreds of years, and although many associate it with Chuckwagons and American kitchens, it’s called a ‘Dutch Oven’ for a reason. These cast-iron pots were brought to America by Dutch settlers when they established what is now known as the United States.
Dutch ovens come in various sizes, brands, and types. There are skillets, saucepans, Dutch ovens with and without legs. The pot I used for this event in Terneuzen was a 5.7L Dutch oven with legs. The advantage of having legs is that you can place charcoal briquettes underneath it, so you don’t always need a BBQ. However, the downside is that because it stands on legs, it’s less easy to place on a BBQ or in an oven.
The significant advantage of cast-iron pans is that, when well-maintained, they can last a lifetime. And I mean a real lifetime. There are plenty of examples on the internet of people finding cast-iron pans that are 100 years old, and with some proper care and cleaning, they can be given a whole new lease of life.
Now, I promised to share this delicious recipe with you, and I’m more than happy to do so. And YES, these are genuinely all the ingredients. And NO, you don’t have to follow the recipe to the letter. Just add ingredients to your liking and play around with it. You’ll be amazed by the results!
1 kilogram pigwings (ham hocks) from the butcher
Your favorite BBQ rub
1.5 liters of your favorite BBQ sauce
3 onions, sliced into thick rings (outer layers removed, of course)
Butter (half a block, cut into pieces)
Optional: a can of pineapple slices in juice
- In a Dutch Oven, line the bottom with the onion slices, and place the butter pieces in between them.
- Rub the pigwings (oerhammetjes) with your BBQ rub (as mentioned, the Hungry Dutchman Pork Rub is the best)
- Place the pigwings on top of the onions (the onions act as a buffer to prevent the pigwings from sticking to the bottom in the first 10 to 20 minutes).
- Pour BBQ sauce over the pigwings until they are nearly submerged in the sauce.
- Put the lid on the Dutch Oven and place it indirectly on the BBQ, or use 8 charcoal briquettes under the Dutch Oven on a stone or similar surface (just make sure the briquettes are not on something flammable).
- If the cooking is progressing too quickly, remove a briquette or lower the BBQ temperature. The BBQ sauce should gently simmer. Keep the lid on the pan so that all the moisture stays inside.
- After 1 to 1.5 hours, remove the lid (careful, it’s hot) and flip the pigwings. Let them continue simmering for another 1 hour.
- Using a thermometer (such as a Thermapen or another thermometer you use for measuring internal temperatures), check to ensure that the internal temperature of the pigwings is around 70°C. If so, the pigwings are done. However, trust me, the longer they simmer, the more flavorful and tender the meat becomes.
- While optional, it’s a good addition. Add the pineapple slices, cut into pieces, and pour some of the pineapple juice into the BBQ sauce. It will thin out the sauce a bit, but the sweetness of the juice and pineapple complements the tanginess of the BBQ sauce wonderfully.
- Once you’re satisfied with the flavor and tenderness of the meat, serve the pigwings on a beautiful plate along with some of the sauce. Enjoy your meal!