Posted by: acooksca | 04/03/2009

Ham Hock and Chard Tortelloni in Roasted Tomato Broth

tortelloni-2aThis recipe is inspired by a ravioli dish that was a classic at Brad Ogden’s Lark Creek Inn in Larkspur. The prep is done the day before or in the morning before you serve it. The assembly is made simple at service time by using spring roll wrappers to form 8 giant triangular pasta packages.

The filling for these tortelloni calls for a firm green leafy vegetable to compliment the dense meaty texture of ham hocks. You can substitute bitter greens such as mustard or collard but don’t exchange the hocks for a supermarket or deli ham. You need that full “country ham” flavor of the hocks as well as their cooking broth to poach the tortelloni.

To add a tomato accent while keeping the serving broth light we use Roma tomatoes that have been roasted slowly for several hours with herbs and olive oil. I like to make a large batch of these tomatoes (they keep well in the refrigerator) for mozzarella salads or on crostini with melted cheese. A garnish of fresh peas, fava beans or, as in our photo, fresh garbanzo beans confirms that these tortelloni are dressed for Spring.

3 lbs smoked ham hocks
1 whole small yellow onion, peeled
4 whole cloves
4 Roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon each salt, sugar and dried thyme
2 tablespoons plus one teaspoon olive oil
1 bunch green chard, washed
6 ounce firm cheese such as dry Jack, aged Gouda, Manchego or Parmesan
8 spring roll wrappers (or fresh pasta cut into 6-inch squares)
1 cup cooked fresh garbanzo beans, peas or fava beans (optional garnish, see Cook’s Note).

Do-ahead Prep (a day ahead or in the morning)

Place the ham hocks a large pot and cover with water by one inch. Poke the cloves into the onion and add to the pot. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the ham meat pulls away from the bones, about 2 hours. Discard the onion and cool the hocks and broth separately. Chill the broth to be able to remove the fat. Remove the bones, fat and tendons from the hocks and discard. Cut the ham meat into ¼ inch dice.

Meanwhile, slice the tomatoes in halves, lengthwise. Gently squeeze each half shaking out and discarding the seeds. Place tomatoes, cut side up on a foil covered roasting pan. Sprinkle with the one teaspoon salt, sugar, thyme and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast at 325 degrees until the tomatoes are slightly dried, shriveled and darkened, about 2 hours. Cool and cover. Keep in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Cut the stems off the chard. Retain 4 large leaves as bowl liners and finely chop the remaining leaves. Place the cut chard in a microwaveable container and cook on high until wilted and soft, about 4 minutes. Cool. Squeeze to extract as much juice as you can. Season with salt, pepper and one teaspoon olive oil.

Using a knife or vegetable peeler make shavings of 3 ounces of the cheese and save as a garnish. Finely grate to rest of the cheese. Combine the grated cheese, diced ham and chopped chard forming a rough textured filling. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and chill until assembly time.

Assembly (at service time)

Skim any fat from the ham broth. Heat 4 cups of broth (add chicken stock if needed) in a large pot. Check the broth for proper salt content as it will be served with the tortelloni.

Lay eight spring roll wrappers on a board and brush water along the edges, 1 inch in. Mound the filling onto the wrappers. Fold each wrapper in half to enclose the filling, forming a triangle. Push out any air pockets and press the edges firmly to close and seal. Chop the tomatoes roughly.

When the broth has come to a light boil poach the four reserved chard leaves until pliable, about two minutes, and use one each to line four shallow pasta bowls. Slip the tortelloni into the broth to poach until the corners are cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.
Gently remove the torelloni to the chard lined bowls. Add the chopped tomatoes and fresh garbanzos or peas (if using) to the broth to heat, about 2 minutes. Ladle the broth over the tortelloni and sprinkle with the cheese shavings.

Cook’s Note: Thawed frozen peas can be heated in the broth as called for in the recipe. Fresh fava beans or garbanzo beans are shelled and poached ahead of time. Favas beans require a bit more work to prep. Read the method in another of our recipes at

Yield: serves four as a starter course or two as a main course.

Wine suggestions: A dry Italian white or New World Gewürztraminer.

Originally published in Farmstead Cheese News by Karen Bolla, edited for A Cook’s California (A Cook’s CA)  by Karen Bolla.


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