A classic French method for cooking Pig’s Trotters comes from Jane Grigson’s ‘Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery’…
Jane suggests, although it is not essential, that you might brine them for about 48 hours before cooking as it improves their flavour. As for buying pig’s trotters, it can be a little challenging but a good butcher who butchers whole carcasses should be happy to supply you.
Serve the trotters on a bed of buttered mashed potato with a simple French dressing / vinaigrette.
Jane Grigson is one of twentieth-century Britain’s finest food writers.
Admired and followed by such doyens of the food world as Nigel Slater and the late Alan Davidson editor of the Oxford Companion to Food. He wrote that Jane bequeathed “to the English-speaking world a legacy of fine writing on food and cookery for which no exact parallel exists…She won for herself this wide audience because she was above all a friendly writer…. the most companionable presence in the kitchen.”
I was lucky enough to know Jane, even to cook with her in her kitchen in Wiltshire. Her enthusiasm and quest for knowledge - we shared a passion for “digging out” craft British food producers – was undaunted. I feel certain she’d be tremendously supportive of the growing band of British Charcuterie Producers.
In fact, the first book Jane ever wrote was Charcuterie and French Pork Cookery. Published in 1967, it remains relevant now as, no doubt, it was then.
The introductory chapter kicks with a Picnic Guide to the Charcutier’s Shop. Divided into What’s Ready to Eat or Requires Warming or Cooking, it names – in French - just about every product you’d find in the shop. From Saucissons Secs – Salami to Hure – Brawn, Jane describes the product and translates - handy when shopping in France.
There are sections on Charcuterie Equipment, Herbs & Seasonings used in Charcuterie, Cuts of Fresh Pork & Offal with really useful illustrations of the differences between French and English cuts, and, of course, the Recipes…how wonderful they are.
The chapter on Terrines, Pâtés and Galantines is a treasure trove but be warned, ever alive to the issues of the quality of ingredients and factory farming. Animal welfare considerations aside, Jane wrote “It is not worth making a chicken pâté with a battery hen. Try and choose a hen you know – or the poulterer knew – had once run around in a yard…pecking up good corn and generally improving its post-mortem flavour”.
An often-cooked favourite is Jambon Persillé de Bourgonne – Parsley Ham from Burgundy from another essential chapter Salt Pork and Hams. I make it with either a leg or a Ham hock. It may be time-consuming, but trust me, it is a show stopper, every time.
I’m also much taken and slowly working my way through Jane’s chapter on Extremities. It includes several recipes on how to cook Pig’s Head – Fromage de Těte, Pig’s Ears – Oreilles de Porc, Brains – Cervelles de Porc, Tongue – Langue de Porc, Trotters – Pieds de Porc, and even Tails – Queues de Porc. Add the chapter on Insides, and you’ll see how committed Jane is about cooking with every part of the pig.
Whether or not you intend to cook, anyone at all interested in Charcuterie should buy this book. Not only is it a joy to read, hugely informative but also a great legacy of Jane’s amazing talents as one of our foremost food writers. I miss her.
Credit: Recipe & all associated images With Copyright Owner Permission of Grub Street Publishing
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