The Case for Eating Pig's Feet

The trotter is the final frontier of nose-to-tail eating.

pig trotters
Pickled pig trotters look weird and taste delicious.Matt Taylor-Gross

Nose-to-tail eating sometimes gets more press than practice. Once the choice chops and tenderloins are gone, Jake Dickson, of Dickson's Farmstand Meats in Manhattan's Chelsea Market, often finds himself with an abundance of hog's feet. We volunteered to take 20 off his hands, settling on a traditional technique from the Deep South: pickling them in a seasoned vinegar brine. While the hooves have little meat on them, the ample fat and gelatin from trotters are ideal for enriching dishes like stewed beans or braised greens, a tip we borrowed from Louisiana-born chef Jean-Paul Bourgeois of New York City's Blue Smoke. Once brined, simmered until tender, and pickled in a vinegar solution, the pieces of pickled pork practically dissolve, bringing a glimmer of bright acidity to an otherwise humble recipe.