Sunday, February 7, 2010

From Tale to Snout

Clean, humane meat is expensive. Doubly so if you buy local and organic products. I do not begrudge a farmer making a living from his or her back-breaking, high-risk work. On the other hand, I am not made of money, either, so I am always looking for ways to buy quality meat on the cheap. One way to do so is to get the "off cuts" of an animal. The farmer has no trouble selling tenderloins, but may have trouble offloading some of the less "reputed" cuts, so I can usually get them at a good price. Plus, it would disrespectful to the life of the animal and the work of the farmer to let anything go to waste.

I also feed my dogs a biologically-appropriate raw food diet. Without question, the single greatest consumer of meat on this farm is the dogs' diet. Again, the farm has rendered me relatively poor, so I have to find meat on the cheap. Since it would be slightly hypocritical of me to rail against the industrial food chain while simultaneously buying chicken leg quarters for $0.49/lb at Walmart, my dogs also learn to do more with less.

The greatest boon to my dogs' diet was finding a local farmer who sells his "extras" for $0.50/lb. Extras could be anything from turkey necks to chicken feet to pork necks to trotters and some occasional freezer burned veal stew meat. (I confess, I eat the veal stew meat). The farmer gets to clear out his freezer, we get to feed the dogs, and everyone is happy. We buy everything the farmer would sell to make sure we stay tops on his "discard" list. So sometimes we are literally overflowing with animal bits that no decent modern human would consider food.

And that is how we happened to have 25 trotters in the freezer. The dogs, being somewhat small, don't do well on raw trotters. The bones can choke and there's not much meat. So they just pile up. Until one day, we saw this recipe. And we decided to eat our way through the trotters.

We selected 10 fore trotters (the front feet of the pig). We improvised a bit from the recipe, namely using primarily meat and not the skin to make the croquettes. The trotters were simmered for 24 hours on low heat until they basically exploded. Then the meat was teased out. The liquid was strained into a dish and set into a pretty decent gelatin which was then cubed and vac packed for the freezer. The gelatin can add body and flavor to soups. The meat was made into croquettes similar to the recipe.

Stewin' some pig's feet

One exploded trotter before piecing it out.

The bones and gristle from 4 trotters

The skin and fat from 4 trotters (aka Dog Food)

The meat from 4 trotters (aka Daun Food)

Trotter gelatin!

Pig Trotter Gelatin from Eventing Percheron on Vimeo.

The croquettes turned out quite amazing, but very rich. I could not finish mine and I think we could have easily served 4-6 people on the meat from the 10 trotters. Adding more of the skin and fat back in could have stretched it out even further. The dogs ate the discarded fat and skin and the chickens enjoyed the contents of the strainer after we separated out the gelatin. Overall, we all got several meals out of those 10 trotters, which more than likely would have gone into the landfill if we hadn't been so daring.

Dinner is served!

Nom nom nom pig feet...

It's always an adventure around here. If you ever come to visit, make sure you ask what's for dinner before you decide to sit at the table! :)


Austen said...

You know what, I would totally try that. When's dinner?

Daun said...

Anytime you want to make the trip, Austin. I liked your recipe on your blog the other day! More please!

Breanna said...

The video clip of the gelatin was great ;D Sounds like a great recipe! I'll have to see if I can get some trotters from the local butcher and try it out!

Stacey said...

I am trying this with a post-broth chicken carcass tonight. I don't know why I never thought of it before.