Shortly before we left Baltimore to move to California, some very close friends had us over for a farewell dinner. They served this magical thing, pig's feet on crackers, that was just one of the best things I've ever had. Rich, salty, smooth and full of flavour. I fell in love. Within days of arriving in San Diego I had ordered the recipe book from Amazon.com. Pork and Sons. Go and get it. Now.
Cooking French-style pig's feet is just like barbecue, in that you're using an inexpensive cut of meat, and using slick technique to turn it into something magical. And while my wife forces me to tell everyone I serve this to what's in it, most of them *love* it.
So, on to the list:
4 pig's feet3 oz smoked slab bacon2 brown onions1 carrot1/2 leek1 bunch fresh parsley2 bay leaves1/2 cup walnut oil1 tsp brown sugar1 tbsp balsamic vinegar1/2 red onionfresh chivesfleur de selcoarsely ground black pepper
Clean the pig's feet. Put the feet into a decent size stockpot. You're going to need a big pot. Pig's feet are big. Toss in the bacon, 1 onion, the carrot, leek, parsley and bay leaves. Top up with water and set it on the stove.
Boil this bad pot o' feet for 3 hours. Pig's feet are tough, and need some hard core heat for a while.
Turn off the heat and fish out the pig's feet and the slab bacon. You're going to need to pull the meat off. It's nasty business. Best to send anyone with a weak stomach out of the room for this part...
Separate the meat from the bones and cartilage. You're going to keep the skin, the meat, the fat, the bacon and basically anything that's gooey. It's all edible. It's all yummy.
Now run all that meat through a coarse meat grinder, or chop it by hand. Pig's feet has a lot of gelatin in it, so this is greasy, wet work. It'll get on everything. Yum! You may have to pass parts of it through the grinder twice to remove the larger chunks.
Meanwhile, sautée 1 chopped brown onion in walnut oil.
Pack the brown onion into the ground meat, season with salt and pepper and form them into sausage shapes. Wrap them in plastic and chill in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
Meanwhile, chop the other brown onion, and sautée in walnut oil. When the onion starts to brown, add brown sugar, and cook until the brown sugar caramelizes and turns dark brown on the onions. Set the onions aside.
Chop the chives and purple onions, and set aside. Mix walnut oil with balsamic vinegar in about a 2:1 ration (oil:vinegar).
When you're ready to serve, slice small slices of of the sausage and prepare to place into the broiler. Drizzle the oil:vinegar mixture onto the sausage, and place in the broiler. Brown under the broiler. When browned, place the sausage slices on a cracker. Sprinkle on the caramelized onion, the chives, purple onion and fleur de sel. For God's sake, don't forget the salt. You need the big salt crystals to hit your tongue simultaneously with the meat to get the right effect.
Serve hot. Be prepared for people to go from "Gross!" to "Holy crap this is great!" in seconds.