(Photo: Georgia Kral)
To my great fortune, I was raised by parents from the Deep South and spent a considerable portion of my youth there. I don't mention it too often here out of compassion for readers who were not so blessed. I grew up eating well.
Among the culinary delights of the Deep South are pigs' feet. Rarely have I had the opportunity to butcher pigs myself and fresh store-bought pigs' feet are rare, so I've always eaten them pickled.
Pickled pigs' feet are delicious! You really should try them, though I have never convinced my dear wife (who identifies as a South Texan but not a Southerner) to do so.
(Photo: Van L.)
You can eat pickled pigs' feet straight out of a jar with a knife and fork. That is my preferred method. But there are recipes around the web that add diced pickled pigs' feet meat to tostadas. The above photo uploaded onto Yelp shows a plate of them at the restaurant chain Xoco.
YouTube user shopdogsam describes himself as a "poor hippie country boy" from "the east coast of Arkansas." He sliced up the meat on pickled pigs feet, then deep fried them in pancake batter and corn meal. He shares this bit of wisdom:
I tell you what, some people says that they don't like pigs feet--wouldn't eat one on a bet--but yet they go on down there and get 'em a hot dog. If you'd eat a hot dog, you'll eat anything.
It is not only in the Deep South where people enjoy the succulent flavors of pigs' feet. In parts of the UK, it's traditional to bake them into a pie. Here's a recipe for pigs' feet pie from Essex, which I see is in the south of England (Southerners are everywhere).
(Image: Cooking Channel)
Chef Edward Lee makes pigs' feet wasabi grill cakes with sorghum syrup on top. Yummy! But Mr. Lee did not always enjoy such hoity-toity pigs' feet. He explains as he burns hair off the pigs' feet with a blowtorch:
When I was a kid, pigs' feet were served to me piled high on a plate. I think that my mom didn't even bother to take the hairs off. It was a pig's hoof in your face and we did not shy away from them.
Jellied pigs' feet or "cold legs" are a delicacy of Eastern Europe. Eleanor Wolff got her recipe from her Ukrainian grandmother, who called the dish Studinia. You'll need a Dutch oven or a slow cooker to make your own.
(Photo: Hakata Tonton)
Hakata Tonton, a Japanese restaurant in New York City, specializes in pigs' feet. Himi Okajima, the chef and owner, mixes them into just about every dish:
There are feet in the pasta carbonara. The rice in the bibimbop is glazed in sticky foot broth. And anybody who needs to ask if there are feet in the “healthy collagen salad” — collagen being something that pigs’ feet have a lot of, especially in relation to the negligible nuggets of meat stuck in their deepest recesses — is in the wrong spot.
Pictured above is Mr. Okajima's grilled pig's foot:
Portions looked to be about a half foot each, split open after a good long cooking and then grilled until the skin of each was black like the brand on a football. A dab of yuzu rind came perched on the rim of the bowl, wasabilike, and ready to be stirred into vinegar sauce in the bottom of the bowl. It freshened up the foot with its sweet, floral citrusy kick.
Lots of people barbecued pigs' feet. If you wonder why, then I'll just give you a mild snort in disdain. Everything should be barbecued and here's one barbecue recipe you can try.
(Photo: Christine's Recipies)
Some gourmands refer to pigs' feet as "trotters." That's what Christine does in her Chinese recipe that uses ginger and sweetened vinegar.
(Photo: Overseas Pinoy Cooking)
Paksiw na Pata is a traditional Filipino stew made with pork. It's usually made with the hock of the pig--the lower leg bone--but you can also make it with the feet.
Neatoramanauts, how have you eaten pigs' feet?