Pig’s Trotter Stuffed With Potato

A good addition to this dish is very finely chopped, blanched green cabbage mixed into your mashed potatoes as well as shallots, so you are stuffing your trotter with a bubble and squeak.

First and foremost, happy holidays to you and yours!

This is—finally—the last recipe for that marathon thing I did a while ago.  It’s also easily the most complicated of the bunch, and that’s all due to the whole debone-a-pig’s-trotter part.  I’m still not sure why I waited to do it last that evening.  Oh, wait.  I remember now.  I was incredibly intimidated by the whole debone-a-pig’s-trotter part.  Thankfully there was an experienced chef on hand to lead me through the tough parts because while the instructions in the book are fairly straightforward, they just aren’t able to properly explain all of the nuances that can arise when it comes time to take knife to pig limb.

Here’s just a snippet of the what’s needed to debone a trotter:

Chefs have likened this to being as easy as removing a kid glove, but if you don’t find this, don’t get disheartened.  Start at the other end from the hoof, cut under the skin as close to the bone as possible (avoid cutting through the skin), work your knife further down the trotter following the bone; you should get down to the first claws!

Now’s the part of the story where I confess something I’m not proud of. I tried my very best to debone the trotters without breaking the skin.  Scout’s honor, I tried. My buddy Paul C. managed to eventually remove the bone in his trotter, so we did have at least one proper pig’s foot among our shortcut versions.

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This was just so much faster.  Keep in mind I was punch drunk from lack of sleep, we were strapped for time and trying to do difficult cuts with a sharp knife and an unwilling trotter was just a recipe for a emergency room visit.  I have no regrets over a little shortcut this one time.

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Here’s one of the “finished” trotters showcased by chef David Holtzman. Each trotter was sprinkled with salt and then placed in the fridge until later.

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And when it was actually later, we shook the salt off the trotters and placed them in a pan along with the bones we removed, some garlic cloves, and a combination of stock and red wine. The whole thing was then covered with aluminum foil and the placed in a medium hot oven for a couple of hours. Once cooked thoroughly I left them to cool in the pan until almost room temperature.

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Next up was stuffing each trotter with a mixture of mashed potatoes and duck fried shallots.  We had to be careful not to overfill them, since Mr. Henderson warned that they would expand during further cooking.

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When the feet were filled properly, each one was wrapped in caul fat to help them keep their shape.

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Here are the trotters right after being seared in a hot pan with duck fat but before they were placed in a hot over for a few minutes to finish cooking.  The caul fat mostly melted away in the process, leaving a wonderfully brown and crispy pig’s foot filled with fat enriched mashed potatoes.

Stuffed Pig's Trotter

Okay, I’ll say it. This is probably the least attractive finished dish photo I’ve taken, which is frustrating considering how wonderful it tasted.

Mashed potatoes and fried shallots infused with duck fat and all of the rendered fat from the trotter that ends up coating the mouth with that fatty, lip-sticking goodness that the amygdala part of our brains crave.  Wibbly wobbly braised pork with a crunchy exterior.  The flavors are bold, the texture sublime.  It reminds me slightly of the trotter dish Marco Pierre White made at his famous restaurant, Harvey’s.

Yep. Terrible picture. Amazing recipe.

One down, thirty three to go.

Roast Pork Loin, Turnips, Garlic, and Anchovies

Is it not splendid when you have a guest to stay who cooks delicious things for you?  A fine example is Ken, a chef from Sydney, who prepared this splendid dish full of most of my favorite things.  He even finished it off with a healthy splash of truffle oil, which I have omitted from this version, but please express yourself,

I recently visited my wife in New York City, and ended up having a fantastic time visiting some of the amazing restaurants that were back up and running after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.  Our friends Dan and Katie introduced us to the wonder of North End Grill and its chef, Floyd Cardoz. If you ever get the chance, go and try their tripe crostini if it’s on the menu.  You will not be disappointed, I don’t care if you despise tripe or not.  It’s brilliantly done.  A second visit to Takashi was luckily also in the cards.  The best part was getting a chance to finally meet up with my friend David Shaw and his wife, Diane.  Since I’ve already sung the praises of Takashi’s fare, I’ll kindly point you to David’s take on the evening.

Back to the recipe.

Only two more marathon dishes to go before I actually need to start making things from the cookbook again.  It’ll be good to get back in the kitchen making Mr. Henderson’s food.

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We were nearing the end of the marathon, and only two recipes were left to finish—this one and the pig’s trotter stuffed with potato. Since peeling off the skin of a trotter seemed tough, we opted to do this one first.

One of the frustrating things about not being across the pond is a lack of local, real butcher shop.  Mr. Henderson calls for a hefty cut of pork loin still on the bone, skin on but not scored with the chine removed. Something that specific isn’t going to be sitting in the meat department of your local megamart, and I got mostly blank stares from the people working behind the counter.  I opted for simple pork loin, no skin.  It’s frustrating to settle, but sometimes you just have to make do with what’s available.  The biggest problem with going this direction meant that I was going to have to throw cooking times out the window and just depend on internal temperatures.  Nothing insurmountable, but who needs another wrinkle when you’re sleep deprived and standing in front of the range, right?

Since we couldn’t put the loin in a hot oven for as long as is called for, a simple searing on all sides was done with a few peeled and chopped onions, and then into a medium hot oven for a few minutes to properly cook through.

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As the loins did their thing in the oven, Paul C. started making the dressing for the dish. In that bowl is a bunch of roasted garlic cloves being mashed with a tin of minced anchovies.  Once the two were mashed down to a fine paste we added some capers, parsley, olive oil, red wine vinegar and a dash of pepper.

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About fifteen minutes before the pork loins were done we started on the turnips.  Since we’d eaten, and eaten, and then eaten some more we decided that only one or two turnips were really needed.  They were peeled, chopped, and boiled in salted water until tender.

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A handful of rocket (AKA arugula) was added to the cooked turnips along with the dressing and tossed to combine.

Roast Pork Loin, Turnips, Garlic, and Anchovies

Onto the plate went the turnip/arugula/dressing, and the loin was placed on top.  The skin that I whined about not getting earlier was supposed to be crisped and added to the dish as a garnish.  Since the only thing we had that was remotely close that could be used as a substitute was some of the crispy pig ear we’d made early. It was a fantastic stand-if, if I do say so myself.

It’s been almost a year since I ate this dish, but I can tell you all about the flavors from memory.  The pork itself was nice, but nothing that I hadn’t had before.  It was the combination of the pork with the turnip, greens and dressing that made it memorable.  Salty, briney and fishy.  Peppery turnips and arugula. Crispy, bacon-like ear.  The sum of the parts was so much more than you could imagine.

I think I’ll make it again this weekend.  With the truffle oil.

One down, thirty four to go.

The very last of the dove insanity

Last post about the game bird, I promise.

First up is this interview I did with Elizabeth Trovall of NPR’s State Impact.  She put together a fantastic overview of exactly what happened and I appreciated getting all of the facts out there.

Next, I did an interview with a fellow Austin food blogger who goes by the name RL Reeves Jr over at Scrumptiouschef.com.  That man makes one hell of a gumbo, too.

Finally, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department asked me to be part of a PSA-like short that explains which law I unknowingly broke and why that law is in place.  It also has my friend Cecilia Nasti talking about the wonder of local, sustainable meat.  I’ve only sort of watched it—mostly because I don’t care much for how I look—but a lot of other people say it’s very well done.

Next week, a real update.  No, really.

Lamb Shanks Eben’s Way

Eben, an old friend of Margot’s, uses a leg of lamb, but it is the fatty qualities of the lamb shank I have found to be most suited to this dish.  This dish goes very well with quince cheese (a very firm paste which gets made from cooking down quinces and their natural pectin), a conserve you can get from delicatessense, village fetes, and some supermarkets.

This dish was completed during the great 24 hour rush, and thusly there are few pictures to trot out and show off like usual.  Heck, I even had to compromise making this recipe by leaving the shanks to tender mercy of my pressure cooker.  Despite all of the insanity and the differing steps everything turned out wonderfully.  I’ll elaborate as the post goes on.

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Here we have four lamb shanks—the two in the back are propping up the front two—each with five holes stuffed with bits of garlic and a few raisins. The garlic and raisins help to flavor every bit of the muscle, even deep down near the bone.  The shanks were then placed in a plastic container with some red wine, red wine vinegar, juniper berries, allspice, bay leaves and black peppercorns to marinate for a few days in my fridge before my mad cooking spree.

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On the day of the event, I moved all four shanks and the liquid they were soaking in to my handy-dandy little pressure cooker.

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This device is honestly a “set it and forget it” kind of deal and during the 24 hour cookathon I was so happy to just let it do its thing quietly in the background as I worked on other recipes.  Set a temp, punch in a time, and once it’s finished you have some tasty food all from one pot.  If you don’t have a good pressure cooker at your disposal, you should start looking now so you’ll know what to say when you talk to Santa next.

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Hours into the insanity, my shanks were thoroughly cooked.  With great ceremony I let the steam valve loose, and much whistling and steam commenced. Once all the noise finished, I had four lovely looking lamb shanks, the meat just managing to hold onto the bone.

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When we plated the first shank, Chef David jokingly added a sprig of parsley as a joke.
Lamb Shank's Eben's Way

It was quickly removed.

So, lets get into what was done incorrectly first.  I totally forgot that the braising liquid was supposed to be moved to a different pot and reduced down to thicken, and the fat needed to be skimmed off.  The grease surrounding the shank is unsightly, and yet it was still really tasty.  Mr. Henderson pointed out in the text above that the shanks should be enjoyed with quince cheese.  Despite trying my darndest to locate just a small amount, none was to be found in Austin.  Next time I’ll make sure I have some handy before I make this again.

Now, here’s what went right: everything else.  The meat was hammer-tender—as in you could cut it with the blunt end of a hammer—and packed with flavor from the garlic, raisins and braising liquid.  It was wonderfully complex and comforting, slightly sweet and unctuous. No two ways about it, this was an incredible way to prepare lamb shanks.

Eben, thank you kindly for sharing this with Mr. Henderson. It’s a fantastic recipe.

One down, thirty five to go.