Polish Pork / Ham Hocks with Beer-Honey Glaze (Golonka) Recipe

Ham Hock
Ham Hock. © Teubner / Getty Images
  • 3 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 4 servings
Ratings (21)

Pork hocks, also called knuckles or ham hocks, are known as golonka (goh-LOHN-kah) in Polish.

The hock is actually the ankle of the pig. Fresh hocks are traditional. Smoked hocks are not traditional, but if that's all you can find, remember to reduce the salt in this recipe. Generally, allow 1 hock per person. 

Golonka is considered a national dish of Poland and can be prepared in many ways. I like to boil mine first (save that rich stock for soup) and then I finish them in the oven with a glaze of beer and honey.

Hocks are delicious served with sauerkraut, boiled potatoes or dumplings, rye bread, spicy mustard and cold beer. 

Compare this recipe with chef Bogdan Gałązka's Knuckles of Pork in Beer Recipe (Golonka w Piwie).

What You'll Need

  • For the Hocks:
  • 4 large pork hocks (or ham hocks, fresh or smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon salt (less if using smoked hocks)
  • 1  bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • Optional: 2  juniper berries 
  • 1 large carrot (peeled)
  • 1 large onion (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 piece parsnip (peeled)
  • 1 rib celery
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley (chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • For the Glaze:
  • 1/2 to 1 can beer
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid

How to Make It

Make the Hocks

  1. Singe off any hair on 4 large fresh pork hocks over an open flame. Rinse and place hocks in a large lidded Dutch oven or pot. Add enough water to cover by several inches. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon salt (less if using smoked hocks), 1 bay leaf, 6 black peppercorns, 2 juniper berries (if using), 1 large peeled carrot, 1 large peeled and quartered onion, 1 piece peeled parsnip, 1 rib celery, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley and 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (if using), and bring back to the boil.
  1. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 1 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is ALMOST falling off the bones.
  2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove hocks from pot, reserving the cooking liquid (you'll need 2 tablespoons for the glaze and the rest can be the base for a good soup) and transfer to a baking pan that just accommodates the meat. You want the hocks to be almost touching.

Make the Glaze

  1. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 to 1 can beer, 2 to 4 talespoons honey and 2 tablespoons resereved cooking liquid. Heat until honey has dissolved.
  2. Pour mixture over ham hocks and bake 30 to 45 minutes, basting occasionally, until meat is completely tender and glazed.
  3. Note: Strain the cooking liquid, pushing on the vegetables to extract their juices, chill and then skim off the congealed fat. Use to make soups, cabbage, beans or any other dish.