I love me some pigs’ feet, a.k.a. “trotters,” if you are feeling fancy. The problem is that so many recipes call for them as part of something else, instead of the main attraction. And when they are part of something else, it’s often in the form of a stew. Not complaining, but I prefer them fried so that they are crunchy on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside. Here’s one way to do that:
2-3 lbs of pigs feet
1/2 c salt
skillet with a nice layer of bacon fat (say, leftover from your breakfast)
2-3 T butter
- Rinse the feet in water. Put in a big pot, along with the salt, and cover with water.
- Bring to the boil and then down to a gentle simmer.
- Simmer for three hours, skimming the gunk off the top as needed.
- Remove the feet and let cool until you can handle them. Then remove every teeny bone you can find.
- Now the fun part! Pat them dry as best you can with a paper towel (they’re sticky, so this can be tricky) and then fry in bacon fat and butter in a cast iron skillet. You must use a splatter screen or you will burn down your house. They pop and sizzle like nobody’s business. Side note: this is why it’s better to buy the biggest feet you can so that they are not in small little parts. Bigger pieces will cause less giant popping fat bombs. (The small pieces in the pics below? Yes, we are grateful for an electric range.)
- Fry on both sides until they look caramel-y.
Seriously good with some kind of cold, crunchy, vinegar-y slaw.
Here they are just finished in the skillet
And here they are with some paprika and red cabbage slaw
For some reason, I just can’t make beans as good as my dad makes them, despite documenting his technique. I don’t know why, and it’s frustrating. Argh!
The thing is, I really love beans. Beans, cornbread, and iced tea is definitely one of my favorite meals. I won’t talk about cornbread in milk here, but you can rest assured that I love that, too. So. Where does that leave me since I live so far away from my parents now? It leads me to…experiments. Here’s a recipe I created that worked pretty well this weekend, though not as good as Dad’s.
My Okie Beans
2 c pinto beans, sorted, rinsed, and soaked overnight
1 ham hock
4 c beef stock
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp ground arbol chili powder
1 bouillon cube
1 tsp paprika
salt and plenty of fresh ground pepper to taste
- After soaking, rinse the beans. Add them to a big pot with the beef stock (can be veg stock, of course, for vegetarians).
- Add the spices and bring the beans to a boil.
- Meanwhile, score the ham hock with a knife and brown it on all sides in a separate skillet, preferably one you cooked bacon in that morning.
- Add the ham hock to the boiling beans, stir everything well, and turn off the heat. Let the beans soak some more until later that day when you’re ready to cook them. This can be three hours or eight hours, but you didn’t hear that here since maybe this isn’t so good from a food-borne illness perspective. In any case…
- When you’re ready, say around 4 p.m., bring the beans back to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for about an hour to an hour and a half, until the beans are done. You may need to add a little water as you go.
This goes well with Alton Brown’s already gluten-free cornbread recipe. I add arbol chili powder and cheddar cheese to his recipe for extra flavor, and baking it in the aforementioned bacon-greased cast iron skillet is also helpful. Greens also go well, as does iced tea and milk. Mmmmm! Flavors of home.