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
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
279 Calories
8g Fat
32g Carbs
16g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 279
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 10%
Saturated Fat 3g 13%
Cholesterol 50mg 17%
Sodium 1013mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 32g 12%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 16g
Vitamin C 8mg 38%
Calcium 57mg 4%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 480mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Pork hocks, also called knuckles or ham hocks, are known as golonka (goh-LOHN-kah) in Polish. Golonka is considered a national dish of Poland and can be prepared in many ways. This recipe calls for boiling the hocks first and then finishing them in the oven with a glaze of beer and honey, resulting in flavorful meat with crispy, golden skin. Enjoy these Polish ham hocks with sauerkraut, boiled potatoes or dumplingsrye breadspicy mustard, and a cold beer. 

When making golonka, fresh hocks are traditional, but if you can only find smoked hocks, just remember to reduce the salt in this recipe. In general, allow 1 hock per person.

Ingredients

For the Hocks

  • 4 large ham hocks, fresh or smoked

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, less if using smoked hocks

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 6 black peppercorns

  • 2 teaspoons ground juniper berries, optional

  • 1 large carrot, peeled

  • 1 large onion, peeled and quartered

  • 1 medium parsnip

  • 1 medium rib celery

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional

For the Glaze

  • 1/2 to 1 can beer

  • 2 to 4 tablespoons honey

  • 2 tablespoons ham hock 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 the 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 the salt (less if using smoked hocks) plus the remaining ingredients and bring it 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 the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 1 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is almost falling off the bones.

    simmering ham hock and vegetables in a large pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Remove the hocks from the pot, reserving the cooking liquid (save 2 tablespoons for the glaze), and transfer to a baking pan that just accommodates the meat. You want the hocks to be almost touching each other.

    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 of the reserved cooking liquid. Heat, stirring, until the honey has dissolved.

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

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Bake the Ham Hocks

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

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

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Serve each person a ham hock and enjoy.

Tip

You can use the ham hock cooking liquid to make soups, cabbage, beans, as well as a variety of other dishes. Strain the cooking liquid through a colander, pushing on the vegetables to extract their juices; chill the broth and then skim off the congealed fat before storing.

What Part of the Pig Are Ham Hocks?

A ham hock is part of the pig's trotter, or foot, and includes the joint, which means it is mostly bone, skin, fat, and collagen. Ham hocks are less expensive than other cuts of pork and are usually sold in pairs. Although they're often used to add flavor to dishes, they can be eaten on their own, as in this recipe.