Polish Ham Hocks With Beer-Honey Glaze (Golonka)

Polish Ham Hocks With Beer-Honey Glaze (Golonka) recipe, on a plate

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 4 servings

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. We like to boil ours first (save that rich stock for soup) and then we finish them in the oven with a glaze of beer and honey. Serve with sauerkraut, boiled potatoes or dumplingsrye breadspicy mustard, and a cold beer. 

Ingredients

  • For the Hocks
  • 4 large pork 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

Steps to Make It

Note: while there are multiple steps to this recipe, this golonka dish is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for preparation and cooking.

Make the Hocks

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Polish Ham Hocks With Beer-Honey Glaze (Golonka) ingredients, ham hocks, salt, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaf, peppercorns, juniper berries, fresh parsley, caraway seeds, parsley

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Rinse and place hocks in a large lidded Dutch oven or pot. Add enough water to cover by several inches.

    ham hocks covered in water in a large pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Bring to a boil, covered, over high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface.

    skim off the foam from the boiling ham hocks in the water

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  4. 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.

    carrot, onions, parsnip, celery, parsley, bayleaf, juniper berries, in the pot with the ham hocks and water

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 1 1/2 to 3 hours or until meat is almost falling off the bones.

    simmering ham hock and vegetables in a large pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Preheat oven to 375 F. Remove hocks from pot, reserving the cooking liquid (reserve 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.

    ham hocks on a baking pan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Make the Glaze

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Polish Ham Hocks With Beer-Honey Glaze (Golonka), glaze ingredients, beer, honey, ham hock cooking liquid

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. In a small saucepan, add 1/2 to 1 can beer, 2 to 4 tablespoons honey, and 2 tablespoons reserved cooking liquid. Heat until honey has dissolved.

    honey, beer, and ham hock cooking liquid boiling together in a small saucepan

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Pour mixture over ham hocks and bake 30 to 45 minutes, basting occasionally, until meat is completely tender and glazed.

    Polish Ham Hocks With Beer-Honey Glaze (Golonka) on a baking sheet

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Tip

  • 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.