“This unctuous, giving gastronomic tool will become all chefs’ and cooks’ friend, finding untold uses in the kitchen. No fridge should be without its jar of Trotter Gear. … Nuduals of giving, wobbly trotters captured in a splendid jelly. One can sense its potential even now.”
—from A Healthy Jar of Trotter Gear in “Beyond Nose to Tail” by Fergus Henderson and Justin Piers Gellatly
I did sense the potential, but mostly I was intrigued by the seemingly magical ingredient listed in many of the book’s recipes. And how could I resist that delightfully descriptive language?
Even as I embarked on this cooking adventure, the ambiguous description left me unclear as to the end-product. I imagined it spread on a baguette. I actually planned on taking trotter gear to a potluck! However, I didn’t give the trotters enough time to cook, so I ended up resorting to Plan B: a carton of Braum’s ice cream. Thank goodness, because trotter gear is essentially a concentrated soup stock made gelatinous from the slow-cooked bones. It is pork jelly or aspic, and — I’ve learned — it is intended to add flavor and “mouthfeel” to sauces, gravies and soups, or perhaps a pot of greens.
I let the trotters cook until they were “totally giving,” about eight hours in a “gentle oven” (which I deciphered as 250˚). I did not have “nuduals of trotters.” The recipe directs the cook to pick off all the flesh, fat and skin, but I couldn’t find any flesh and decided against keeping the bits of fat and skin. I poured the liquid into jars. Once chilled, the fat rose atop the jiggly pork Jello. I scooped off the fat and reserved it for frying some greens pies. Or perhaps I’ll make some biscuits with it.
And a “healthy jar,” indeed! The recipe yielded about three quarts of trotter gear, most of which I froze. I shan’t be without trotter gear anytime soon.
Feet from Doug Hill’s pigs in Jones, Oklahoma.