Things You'll Need
Large cooking pot
Roasting tray or Dutch Oven
Pig trotters can be cooked in a variety of ways, but in all cases, they require slow cooking until the meat falls off the bone. Because trotters fall into the offal category and contain very little meat, they are often viewed as a budget food. Travel through countries such as France or Spain, however, and their thick collagen texture and ability to absorb flavor make them a frequent signature dish in gourmet restaurants and an ingredient that enriches a pot of stock.
Preparing Trotters as Food
Soak the pig trotters for up to 24 hours in cold, salted water, changing the water occasionally. Although most butchers sell trotters that have been cleaned and scalded to remove the hair, soaking draws out any blood in the trotters and tempers the raw, offal aroma.
Remove the trotters from the water; pat them dry, and remove any remaining hairs with a blowtorch or stovetop burner.
Rinse the trotters one more time under cold, running water.
Stewed Pig Trotters
Place the trotters in a large pot of salted water with aromatics such as garlic, carrots, celery, onions and leeks, along with herbs such as thyme or rosemary.
Cover and simmer for 3 hours, skimming off any froth regularly with a slotted spoon.
Remove the trotters from the water with a slotted spoon once the meat is so tender it separates easily from the bone. Allow the meat to cool.
Arrange the trotters on a flat, non-slip chopping board and pare the meat and skin away from the bones with a chef's knife. Alternatively, the trotters can be served whole, although some diners find this less visually appealing.
Slice the meat into thin strips and serve with side dishes such as lentils and beans. Several ethnic cuisines create flavorful variations on this theme by adding vegetables and seasonings to the pot, like this Hungarian version from Zserbo.com, and adding back the whole or cut-up meat from the trotters.
Crispy Pig Foot
Boil the pig's trotters in a covered pan of salted water until tender.
Remove the trotters from the pot; allow them to cool, and pat them dry.
Use a knife to prize out the main bone through each trotter and discard.
Chop the remaining meat and transfer it with tongs to a frying pan liberally drizzled with cooking oil.
Saute the meat until it is golden and crispy. Remove the meat from the pan with tongs and allow it to cool; then serve it.
Simmered and Oven-Roasted Trotters
Simmer the pig's trotters in a pot of salted water, covered, for an hour.
Remove them from the pot; pat them dry, and arrange them on a baking tray.
Score the meat with a sharp knife; rub it with salt, pepper and herbs or drizzle with honey or brown sugar for a glaze. Cooking Channel suggests a coating of seasoned breadcrumbs.
Roast in an oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes or until crispy.
Braised Pig Trotters
Place the trotters in a Dutch Oven or covered roasting tray with thyme, carrots, celery, garlic and onion. Add veal or chicken stock to cover the trotters. British chef Martin Wishart suggests browning the vegetables and trotters first, which deepens their flavors, but this step is optional.
Braise the trotters in an oven at around 325 degrees for around 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Remove the trotters from the tray, but keep the liquid for stock or to drizzle over the final dish.
Dry off the trotters once they're cool and place them on a grill rack, with the skin facing the heat source.
Grill the trotters for 30 minutes until the skin is crispy.
Ask your butcher to cut the trotters in half if you're finishing with dry heat or frying, as this will make the bone easier to remove.
Give braised or fried trotter an authentic Spanish twist by simmering it in a mixture of stock and milk until the collagen in the pig thickens the sauce.
Make sure the trotters are completely dry when frying or grilling or the skin will not crisp sufficiently. Moreover, any drops of liquid running off the meat could cause spitting when dropped into hot oil.