I have a big brother. Have I ever mentioned that before? I don’t usually because he’s pretty private, but these pigs’ feet make me think of him so I thought I’d risk reprisal and tell you why. He’s 800 miles away so I think I’m pretty safe.
I am my brother’s best birthday present. Seriously. I was born on his second birthday. I can only imagine what a, ‘Wow, you suck’ moment it was for him when he first met me.
Did he know that I would be the reason that his day was no longer singled out just for him, but that from that moment on out there would be girls at his parties, pink icing bleeding on to the blue side of his cake and a smaller stack of presents since two sets were required? Probably.
That’s probably why he thunked me on the forehead with a big branch as I was going down the slide when I was three. It could also be the reason that I got beaned by a piece of asphalt. And a croquet ball. In the name of ‘play.’
Would I have pretended my mother’s French perfumes and powders were cooking ingredients and mixed them together in the bathroom sink on my own? I doubt it. He was the brains behind that endeavor, though I remember being thoroughly punished right alongside him.
Yeah, I continued to play with him through all that sibling abuse. I stuck right by his side. Because he was cool.
And he still is. These days he’s an awesome husband and stellar father at home, and a fantastic psychologist at work.
If you know many psychologists, they seem to come in two forms; the incredibly quirky and the extremely dull and boring. My bro? Call the quirk police.
He’s the kind of guy that loves the Stooges, Spaceballs and Monty Python. He’s the father whose son tries to walk well in front of to get away from the faces and gestures being made behind him.
He’s who I think of when I mention pigs’ feet. It’s like this, some of those quirks have rubbed off on me over the decades. One comes whenever Dudette asks what we’re having for supper.
‘Moose lips.’ That’s the kind of response my brother would give. It’s what he says when my sister and I try to find out what he wants for Christmas. And it’s rubbed off. Poor Dudette. Moose lips, chicken toes, earthworm knuckles; she’s heard them all.
However, one day, pigs’ feet slipped out. ‘Ewwwww,’ she said. ‘I wouldn’t eat those!’ she exclaimed. One eyebrow went up.
‘Really?’ I thought.
Even though I was forced to try some mighty strange foods as a child, I don’t remember pigs’ feet (or trotters) being one of them. Considering how much I love every other part of the hog that I’ve eaten thus far, it didn’t seem like a far stretch to assume that I’d enjoy the feet as well. So I was ready to teach Dudette a lesson about food with them, if I could find the right recipe.
I searched the web. Pickled was definitely out. That just sounds nasty. I finally hit on a recipe on Serious Eats by Chichi Wang, author of The Offal Cookbook. Her trotters are braised for several hours in water flavored with kecap manis and sriracha. they’re then grilled to crispy goodness, glazed with a sauce of kecap manis, sriracha, honey and tamarind sauce.
During the three hour braising, Dudette, the one who declared that there was no way she’d eat pigs’ feet, commented that they smelled really good. I agreed. In fact, so did Hubby, who was as excited about the meal as his daughter.
There were four of us at the table last night. Dudette’s sitter, a sweet young thing who loves meat but lives with vegan parents, and who is required to come early enough to eat dinner so I can get a regular dose of carnivore goodness in her body, was with us as well.
I don’t even know how to explain what we thought, so I’ll break it into two parts. The braising liquid and sauce are awesome. The flavor they give to meat is very good and I look forward to trying them on another piece of meat. Any other piece of meat.
Pigs’ feet are just bone and fat covered in skin. No wonder Chici says that if she were to ever get a tattoo, it would say, ‘Fat is flavor.’ That’s all there is to eat. Which means that after we nibbled on a bit of skin, we were done.
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d triple the braising liquid and sauce and cook a Boston butt instead.
- 3-4 pigs' feet, halved lengthwise
- ½ cup kecap manis
- ¼ cup sriracha
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup kecap manis
- 1 tablespoon sriracha
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Rinse the pigs' feet and dry with paper towels. But them in the bottom of a pan in a single layer. Mix together the kecap manis and sriracha and pour over the feet. Carefully pour the water in the pan and sprinkle the salt over everything. Cover the pan tightly with foil.
- Braise the pigs' feet 2½ - 3 hours, or until they are very tender but still on the bone. Let cool fifteen minutes.
- Arrange your briquettes on one side of the grill or in a pile in the middle, leaving room for indirect cooking. When the briquettes are ready, arrange the pigs' feet on the cool side's grate, skin side down.
- Mix the sauce ingredients together and divide into two bowls.
- Grill for 25 to 35 minutes, turning the trotters occasionally to check that the skins aren't burning and brushing with half the sauce mixture in the last five minutes of grilling.
- Serve immediately with the sauce on the side.
Even though we found out that we don’t like the meat (or lack thereof) that pigs’ feet offer, I’m glad that everyone around the table was willing to try them. I also hope that Dudette learned not to turn her nose up at food just because she thinks its ‘gross.’ Boy, I sure hope she doesn’t do it if I ever mention chocolate covered grasshoppers.