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Ham Stock

['2 1/2 pounds meaty smoked ham shanks or ham hocks', '2 quarts cold water', '1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)', '2 carrots, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices', '2 celery ribs, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices', '3 large garlic cloves, crushed', '1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf', '2 teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled', '3 whole cloves', '1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns']

Combine ham shanks and cold water in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot and bring to a boil, skimming any foam. Add remaining ingredients and simmer, partially covered, until shanks are tender, about 2 hours. Pour stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a large metal bowl, reserving shanks and discarding remaining solids.
Discard skin and bones from shanks. Trim and coarsely shred meat, then return to stock.

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