Thursday, 15 January 2009

Pork Pie - Pt.1 'A Tale of Two Trotters'

This week we've taken delivery of a 1/4 of rare breed pig, handily jointed into all manner of juicy cuts, and now monopolising most of our freezer space. I think the breed is an Oxford Sandy & Black, also known as the Plum Pudding pig, which sounds delicious. Serena of Keythorpe Rare Breeds did tell us the breed, but I was too busy rooting through the meat at the time, glaze-eyed and muttering about Crackling and Sunday Roasts, so wasn't concentrating on the technicalities!

Serena very kindly included a few of the less obvious 'cuts' as a kind of 'Epicurean Bonus'. The generous portion of Liver is destined for a future experiment in Faggot making, the Kidneys... well, the Kidneys need a little more thought, which just leaves a dainty pair of Trotters.

Trotters... Hmm! Pigs would of course struggle to get around without them, but my research to date has found that this may be the limit of their usefulness. Legendary Snout-to-Tail advocate Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall swears by a Sweet 'n' Sour recipe for Trotters, but the comments I've read from people who've tried this recipe can be summarised as 'Nice sauce, but on no account attempt to eat the trotters', which is hardly a ringing endorsement.

I've decided to go back to basics, extracting the flavour and a useful dollop of gelatin from the Trotters by boiling up with a few stock vegetables and aromatics. Much more sensible than attempting to search through skin and knuckles for anything worth a chew. Pork pie it is then, with Trotter jelly (IMO the best part of a pork pie) made with a good Devon cider in the absence of our own. I've used Winkleigh Sam's Dry which is a clean tasting, and properly dry cider, ideal for the purpose. I don't want the jelly to be sweet, or too highly flavoured with the rich, bittersweet flavour typical of Herefordshire and Somerset ciders. I don't want any hairs in it either, so the trotters have had a bit of a shave.

For the pie itself I'm using a (slightly tweaked) recipe by Rick Stein, which has the distinct advantage over more traditional recipes of not using Lard in the pastry. I've made proper hot-crust pastry before with some success, but I've a feeling that if Karen catches sight of a block of Lard slowly melting into a pan of water, I'll be eating the whole 2lb pie myself...

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