Add the rinsed beans, ham hock, bay leaf, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat slightly just so that it’s at a low boil, and cook for 20 minutes. Reduce heat again just so that the liquid is simmering. Cover and cook for about 1 ½ hours, or until beans are tender. Check the beans after 1 hour, because they may be soft enough at that point if you like your beans a bit more firm. If you prefer the beans really soft and broken down, you may prefer to extend the cooking time to 2 hours. While the beans are cooking, check to occasionally make sure that the beans are covered with water (adding more water, if necessary). Discard bay leaf, remove ham hock from the pot, and shred or chop the meat. Return chopped meat to the pot with the beans. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Garnish individual servings with hot sauce and herbs; serve with cornbread.