Sunday, 18 November 2012

Crubeens aka pig's trotters

Banbury Farmers Market is held on the first Friday of every month. Although I have it marked in my calendar I very rarely manage to make it down in time. By the time I wander out for a lunch time perusal the stalls are starting to pack up having done a roaring morning's trade.

However, last month I just about got there while most of the stalls were still there, albeit running low on produce. Now I am always on the look out for some interesting cuts of meat (a euphemism for the bits most people won't eat) which then become weekend cooking projects. Consequently, once I laid eyes on a few pig's trotters on the first meat stall I came across, there was little chance of me not buying one, especially as they were only £1.20 each!

Trotters are known as crubeens in Ireland and are usually boiled and served whole with much made of getting stuck into the finger-licking gelatinous mass. That didn't sound too appealing to me.

Then there's Koffman's famous morel stuffed trotters: 
Picture from
I figured it would be highly unlikely that I'd be able to hit similar gastronomic highs.

Consequently, I figured a whole trotter was not for me. Instead I decided to boil the trotter, pick out the meat and press it. Having boiled the trotter for about three hours with the usual aromatics (celery, leak, carrot, bay leaves, peppercorns) the skin had a very odd "tough jelly" texture and the trotter had much more thick gelatinous tissue than actual meat.

I gave the meat a very rough chop and wrapped it in cling-film to form a big "sausage". I was a bit wary of the meat not sticking together (I'd pontificated for ages as to whether to add any thing else to the meat such as finely diced vegetables of some sort of binder like mayo or egg, but eventually decided against it) so I actually whacked it in the freezer. That was an inspired move as it was easy to cut the sausage into thick slices, which were each coated in seasoned flour, egg and breadcrumbs (I actually double dipped) and fried.

The patties were porkiness personified and my choice not to add anything else to the meat was vindicated. (Thinking about it I didn't even season the meat - maybe an error there.) I could easily have added more mustard powder to the flour as it didn't really come through. That may be due to the thick coating of breadcrumbs which gave a lovely contrasting crisp, but maybe muted the flavour a little.

The accompaniment of creamy mustard savoy cabbage, beetroots (pan roasted in olive oil with thyme and a balsamic glaze) and new potatoes worked very well.

All in all, it was quite an effort but reasonably worthwhile. I'm intrigued to try a  whole trotter, but I'm not sure I'll be cooking it myself. Maybe that means I need to get myself off to The Berkeley...

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