Trotter Gear - Unctuous Potential
Pigs' Feet. You're not buying them. I know you're not. But, you probably are eating them, even if you don't know it.
You know that silky, rich pork broth you get when you go out for Ramen? That richness is due in large part to feet juice! Well, it's gelatin actually, but I really just wanted to say 'feet juice". The super high amounts of collagen in the skin, tendons and connective tissue of Trotters (pigs' feet) gelatinizes with long slow cooking to create that unctuous mouthfeel we all love so much.
This where our friend Fergus Henderson comes in.
In his book, The Complete Nose to Tail Henderson details a way to really concentrate all that porky goodness in his recipe for "Trotter Gear". I love this book for it's super casual style of direction. There are no strict rules for cooking in Henderson's world. You get a lot of "add a healthy amount of such and such" or "place in a gentle oven". I enjoy that approach to cooking. It's why I don't bake - I'm not a damn scientist!
I won't post the whole recipe here. I'm sure it's very easy to find online. Plus, I really think everyone should click over and buy the book. But, I will share some tips from my experience which may help to go along with the minimal instructions given in the original recipe.
Tip 1: Do not skip the first step of blanching the trotters to boil off the initial scum. I think the picture shows well enough why this is important.
Tip 2: Do brown the veggies first. I didn't do it because it wasn't in the recipe, but I'm pretty sure this would've been even better if I had gotten some nice caramel-y brown color on everything first.
Tip 3: Take your time pulling and picking apart skin, fat, meat, etc. I mean come on, look at all those beautiful little chunks of deliciousness suspended in that pig jelly.
Yeah, pig jelly. This "broth" is like a 50's housewife style jello mold when refrigerated. It's glorious.
Henderson's book has a handful of recipes that utilize this stuff, from stuffing it into a bird for roasting, to braised squirrel or deep-fried rabbit. But I really like it on it's own (though it does need salt) and I might jut eat the whole jar with some good crusty bread.
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