Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pieds de Porc

Picked up two trotters at the local butchers for the princely sum of €1.50. Being on the dole certainly fosters fiscal creativity.

More to the point, having been utterly inspired by Fergus Henderson's (video link) Nose to Tail Eating cookbook, and fantastically charmed by the man himself, I've found myself with enough time to actually do something constructive with this porcine culinary crush.

Also, and equally to the point, the environmental cost of meat eating does weigh on my mind. I eat vegeatarian meals with more regularity than most omnivores, I think, and consuming the whole beast when one does eat meat is yet another almost imperceptible nod towards sustainability.

Pork Trotters. This preparation is amongst the most basic. It's first up in Grigsons chapter on feet, and serves as the basis for other, more complicated preparations - Saint Menehoulde (braised, then breadcrumbed and finished off and crisped in the oven, grill or fried), stuffed (with forcemeat or truffles), or crumbled trotters.
Braised Trotters, with Vinaigrette

2 pork trotters
1 leek, sliced
1 onion, whole, peeled, studded with three cloves
1 carrot, sliced
1 stick of celery, sliced
Bouquet Garni (I used thyme, a little rosemary, and two bay leaves)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 glass of white wine (I skipped this - none in the house)
1/4 glass of white wine vinegar (her measure - I used a little less)
Water to just cover the trotters

Add all the ingredients to a pot, pour in water to just cover it, bring just to the boil (again, too high a temperature will topughen the meat), and simmer. Grigson suggests 6 hours - perfect if you have a wood burner of solid fuel stove heating the house - but on gas I went for 2 and a half.

I experimented, wrapping one trotter in muslin and tying it up, and leaving one untied. The untied one completely came apart in the cooking. Fine if you planed to strip the trotter anyway - maybe for rillette duty, or to add to a stuffing, pate, or reform into an easier to eat shape. The muslined appendage kept it's sahpe quite well, splitting down one side completely, but otherwise staying intact......

The vinaigrette is a standard French Dressing, nothing too complicated, and can be easily adapted to your taste - the addition of capers, or cornichons, anchovies, gherkins, or a little tomato concentrate. Use lemon instead of vinegar - tray a red or white wine vinegar instead of cider, or add a handful of leafy herbs to bring it towards a salsa verde.....


1 tablespoon of wine vinegar
5-6 tablespoons of oil
1 teaspooon mustard
1 teaspoon of sugar
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped parsley
1 crushed clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of chopped shallot

Mix the vinegar, mustard and sugar together, stir in the oil, and add the seasoning. Taste, and adjust (the strenth of your vinegar is a variable here, and so you may have to vary the ratio from Grigson's - as much as 1 part vinegar to only three parts oil may well be a good balance)

As it turned out, the experiment was only partially successful. The flavouring was perfect, sweet, gealionous textured, salty, the meat succulent and juicy. The stock was gelatine rich - perfect for making aspics, jellies, and for fillings.But the meat yield was tiny, even from the larger trotter, and far too much work to take off the foot, separate from the skin, and intricately liked bone, and the fatter cartilages that remained. All in all, not enough meat for the effort - but perfect for adding flavour, texture and body to sticks, pates, and pies. Next project then........


lusciousblopster said...

is it just me or does it look like a tiny dog is tucking in to the top of the trotter on the left? bizarre (in french accent)

Keith said...

Thats, as the French would say, Incroyable!!!!