Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Recipe For Pig's Feet With Tomato-y Sauce

This is not pickled pig's feet, so those who hate pickled pig's feet, stop screaming in horror and running away waving your arms in abject hysterical horror. This is not the same stuff. Come back. Calm down. This is different.

This is also not MADE with pickled pig's feet. We're starting with RAW pig's feet. They're in the butcher's section, not in a jar. It's also important to note that you want to use pig's feet which have been split in half lengthwise. If you don't have a substantial cleaver and some experience wielding it, you're going to want to let somehow else split them for you. Chances are you'll find them for sale already split in half. If not, the butcher will probably be glad to do it for you.

You will need:

A large crock pot, or stovetop pot with a good-fitting lid and a stove

6 pig's foot halves (3 whole feet cut into halves)

1 big tomato or 3 smallish ones or the equivalent in differently-sized tomatoes, chopped into dice-sized cubes

Shallots amounting to 1/3 cup when finely chopped, finely chopped

Large stalk of celery, finely chopped

Large stalk of bok choy, finely chopped

Salt, pepper, garlic powder, cilantro, ginger, allspice, paprika, cumin and basil to taste

TOP SECRET I-NEVER-WOULDA-THOUGHT-OF-THAT BUT BELIEVE-ME-IT-WORKS-SOMEHOW MYSTERY INGREDIENT AND FLAVOR-ENHANCER: 2 tablespoons of ordinary cheap BBQ sauce out of a plastic bottle from Kroger's. No, I'm not kidding. I know, the stuff is gross when used as directed, and much worse still if you actually taste some straight from the plastic bottle, but in small doses as a top-secret mystery ingredient and flavor enhancer, somehow, it's awesome. I can't explain it.

Thoroughly wash the pig's feet, and thoroughly wash the vegetables and tomatoes before chopping them up.

Put all of the ingredients into the pot, add just enough water that everything's underwater (level the ingredients out before adding the water or you'll need too much water to cover them), cover the pot and bring it to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 3 hours, and yahtzee.

So simple, and so good. (Don't take the lid off during those 3 hours. Don't let one bit of that flavor go steaming away, lost.) Now, I'm afraid that some of you aren't going to want to eat the gelatinous stuff that's going to be falling off of the bones: skin and cartilage and stuff. You really should try it, and try to get past whatever texture issues you may have, because it's truly nummers and you don't know what you're missing despite Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern trying so hard to tell you for all of these years. But if Bourdain and Zimmern and I still can't talk you into eating all that wonderful stuff, then at least try the sauce, because OMG.

You can depart from this recipe, try different amounts and different ingredients. The above recipe uses the ingredients I happened to use today. The crucial thing is the long slow cook time. There are a lot of recipes which are basically similar to the above except without the tomatoes, using something like vinegar or lemons instead. I think leaving the tomatoes out is completely insane, but a lot of people don't use tomatoes, maybe even most people, so what do I know. What's going on here is that the water and the fat from the pig's feet are going to combine with whatever combination of veggies and fruit and spices and other stuff you use, and form a sauce. A heavenly, silky sauce in the case of this recipe. I stand by my tomato-y approach, but google pig's feet recipes and you will find many recipes basically like mine except with different ingredients. So by all means, follow the recipe which sounds good to you. And experiment with your own variations if you want to. And bon appetit.

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