Ham hocks come from the bottom part of the pig’s leg, between the meaty ham and the foot. They’re typically cured and smoked, which gives them a longer shelf life and a more complex flavor.
Ham hocks are traditionally used to flavor Southern classics like black-eyed peas and collard greens. Though they contain too little meat to be worth eating on their own, they're great for boosting the flavor of other dishes, much as a bouillon cube does.
If you can’t find smoked ham hocks at the supermarket, a smoked turkey leg is a good substitute.
Look for ham hocks in the supermarket meat case, where they’re sometimes sold in two-packs. If your recipe only calls for only one, you can store the extra one, tightly wrapped, in the freezer for up to six months.