smoked pork neck bones – great for pea soup!

Okay, probably not big news to most of the world (those who eat pork, anyway) but what a REALLY inexpensive way to flavor up pea soup when you haven’t recently baked a ham!

I used my usual pea soup recipe, except that I pre-cooked the 1.5 lbs of neck bones first. I wasn’t sure if they’d have long enough to cook in the usual recipe – 15 minutes, I believe.

BUT, with these neck bones, better to precook and get all the bones out before adding the other ingredients. I pressure cooked them in the 8 of the 9 cups of water I use in the recipe for about 10 minutes and 10 minutes natural release. Then, quick-released the rest of the pressure under cold water, strained the liquid into my 8-cup measuring cup, and used the broth, plus a cup+ of water to make the 9 cups total liquid. Then, I let the necks cool down a bit, and picked off all the meat, discarding much of the fat, of which there was a lot!

I am really glad that I didn’t just stick the neck bones in with the rest of the ingredients! It would have been a disaster with all the tiny bits of bones and the fat – picking it all out of the finished pea soup would have been a nightmare.

There was plenty of meat for the soup, though. It was great! (Well, still is, since we have a bit more in the fridge and I froze a few containers. Not sure how it will be when defrosted…I seem to remember reading that things with potatoes in them don’t freeze well… Hell, I bet it will still taste good – but perhaps the texture and looks won’t be “fit for company.”

So, while ham hocks make for an economical alternative for pea soup when you don’t have a leftover ham bone, and is easier since you can just pop them in when you make the soup, the necks are even less expensive and add great flavor, albiet the extra cooking step.

Hmmm, now that I think of it, I should buy those necks whenever I see them and do the broth and “pick the bones” thing on a lazy afternoon and freeze it all for a quick pea soup dinner on another night.

Okay, gotta go…time to do some cleaning and organizing. Scary but necessary. If only I were as good at getting housework done as I am at cooking… Where’s the maid?