Sunday, January 3, 2010

Pig Trotters - Day One

Well it has been quite the day of cookery, and there is still about a day left on these little beauties. Pigs feet, conjure images of vile creatures stomping around playing in their own excrement. From a culinary standpoint, they are a cooks challenge; little meat, lots of tiny bones, packed full of connective tissue. Once again I have decided to follow Keller's lead in Bouchon. I highly recommend buying this book, not only is it packed with information and recipes, but its total food porn! It personally gives me a culinary erection.

The Feet

Keller highly recommends going to the butcher and getting the feet with the hocks attached. After trying it with just the feet, youd be wise to listen. That little piggy will have you pinching for every last morsel of meat on it's feet, and its frusterating. Just do it.

How we prepare the feet is very important, although most hair is removed on a pig (I think they get dumped into oil or something which gets rid of it,) there are small little nooks where the hair will like to hide. Take a propane torch, and carefully torch the skin. Pay particular attention to inbetween the toes. Be careful not to cook the skin, just try to burn the hair off. After you are done give them a good rub to get the burned hair off, and a quick rinse.

Next fill a large pot up with cold water, add the trotters, and make sure they are covered. Bring to a boil, and let simmer. Impurities will rise to the surface in the form of sediment and foam, be sure to skim this stuff off. After a few minutes, drain, clean the pot, fill it back up with trotters and cold water.


Bring the water up to a simmer a second time. Add in some garlic, onion, leek, and carrot, along with a spice bag (peppercorn, bay leaf, thyme, parsley stems,) and let simmer for about three hours or until the bones are coming away from the meat. Turn off the heat, let the trotters cool slightly until you can comfortably handle. Do not throw out the cooking liquid.

Next you have to work fast, these things are filled to the tits with gelatin, and if you let them cool too much your going to have pig feet flavoured jello on your hands. Start taking apart the trotters, seperate the skin, and the meat. Throw out the bones, excess fat, tendons, veins, toe nails, anything you wouldnt put in your mouth. Scrap down the skin, and try remove any extra fat (more prevelant on the hock portion then the trotter.)

Weight out the meat, you need half that weight in finely chopped up skin, mix together.

In a pan sweat out about three decently sized shallots in a generous amount of butter, season, remove from heat, add to mixture. Add in a few good dollops of Dijon mustard, a teaspoon of the cooking liquid, salt, pepper, finely chopped parsley, and thyme. Use a large spatula to fold everything together, and work the mixture to break up the meat as much as possible. You should end up with a fairly homogeneous mixture.

Place the mixture on a large sheet of aluminum foil and roll it up into a thick log (about 2 inches diameter). Twist the ends so its tight, and leave overnight in the refridgerator. If done correctly we should wake up to a terrine like log of tasty pig foot -I hope.