Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pig Trotter Terrine, August Charcutepalooza Challenge!!

I have recently joined the group Charcutepalooza.  A bunch of amazing people, are dedicated to learning the art of Charcuterie using Michael Ruhlman's book Charcuterie.  If you have not purchased this book, GET IT NOW... In fact, buy one for yourself and one as a gift for someone else.  This is not your typical cook book, more like an easy and fun to read text book that gets you back to the roots of Charcuterie.  Everything from curing meats, making condiments, and how to smoke all types of meats.  No I did not get an endorsement from Mr. Ruhlman. 

So when I find out that the August challenge was Binding. I got excited.  Participants were challenged to either do: The apprentice Challenge: Make a Liver Terrine or a Fish/Seafood Mousseline, or go for the Charcutiere Challenge: Make Headcheese, feet, or Trotter Terrine. Since I lack the storage space for an entire pigs head, I went with the Trotters.  I gave a call over to my buddy Mark, at Newman Farms Heritage Berkshire Pork .  And as soon as I mentioned trotters, he gave me the traditional Mark line "I have a deal for you"!!  I went there to only get a couple trotters and Mark used his Jedi mind tricks on me, I left with twelve trotters, eight pounds of pork belly, and five pounds of pig livers. He's good.  Okay back to the task at hand.  If you look back to my previous post, Primals The trotter is the pig foot area.  Look at diagram below.

I remember as a child my grandmother used to love pickled pigs feet.  now I know why they are delicious.  First order of business here is a dirty one.  I know we are making what you could call Toe Cheese, instead of Head cheese.  But these litter buggers have to be cleaned well.  Started by torching off any of the apparent hairs, then shaved the tricky areas(don't tell my cousin, but his razor worked great). And of course get any of the nasty bits from between the toes.  Below is what you should have.  Fancy piggy feet.

Next step is doing your Mise en place, this is a fancy french term for getting your S#&T together. See Below.
  • 8lbs/ 3629g Pig Trotters approx. 6-8 trotters
  • 1 1/2lbs/ 681g Pork belly cubed
  • 2ea Onions approx 250g
  • 2ea Leaks approx 375g cleaned well
  • 2ea Carrots approx. 200g
  • 3ea Celery Stalks approx 116g
  • 1ea Head of Garlic approx 36g cut in half
  • 1bunch Thyme approx 20g
  • 2ea Bay leafs
  • 2Tbs Coriander seeds
  • 2Tbs Fennel seeds
  • 2Tbs Tellicherry Black peppercorns
  • 1Tbs Brown mustard seeds
  • 2Cups/16floz white wine
  • Kosher salt, enough so that your water tastes like the ocean, salty but not to much
  • Water

  1. After Cleaning the trotters Roughly Chop your vegetables and pound all of the spices in a mortar.
  2. Add all ingredients to a Large stock pot.  Add enough water to cover by about an inch, salt the water to the taste of the ocean, cover the pot and simmer for 3 hours until the trotters are tender and have just about fallen off the bone.  They will look like they exploded.  Make sure during the simmering that you skim any of the scum that floats to the surface.  I usually check every half an hour or so.
  3. When your trotters are full cooked remove them to a bowl.  Then strain your stock into another pan. You want to reduce this liquid by 3/4.  This is going to be the binder for the terrine.  The trotters have so much natural gelatin it will solidify nicely.
  4. Next get your station set up before you try and dismantle these little pig part that seem to be made of lava.  These have to cleaned while hot, due to the high collagen content, they will be way to hard and sticky when cool.  I have a bowl for trotter meat and skin, another for waste and another set up with ice water to stop the burn.  My advise as well is to wear a good pair of latex gloves, it will stop the complete removal of your finger prints.
  5. After all of the meat and skin is separated, chop the belly and the trotters to random size pieces.  remember this is where your texture will come from.
 The right is the chopped belly, trotters and skin.  The left is the bones and waste.  Line your terrine with  plastic wrap.  Little secret, I spray the inside of the terrine with water before laying in my plastic wrap, it helps the plastic stay in the corners much better.  Place your terrine in the freezer for a few minutes as well before filling.  Next fill your terrine with meat mixture, lightly pressing down to ensure there are no air pockets

6. Reduce your stock so that it will thicken nicely when chilled.  Easy way to test is to put a small plate in the freezer until completely chilled.  Then take a small spoon full of your stock and put in the middle of the plate.  As you move the stock around the plate it should turn almost into a jello like consistency.  Taste your stock!!  This is your last chance to season your terrine.  Do not forget when you serve something cold or at room temperature your seasoning needs to be much more aggressive.  So if you think it is a little salty when hot it will work out great when cool.  Pour enough stock over your meat mixture to fill the terrine.  Fold your plastic wrap over and put your weight on top.  If your terrine did not come with a weight plate you can cut a piece of cardboard and wrap in clear film and use that as well.  Place a large can or weight on your terrine and chill overnight.
After your terrine has chilled overnight, it is time to hope your prepped your terrine correctly.  If done right it will fall out of the mold.  If you find it is clinging a little you can dip the terrine in to a little warm water to help with the release.  Invert it onto a plate and check out your newest creation.  Slice the terrine about a half an inch thick.

I served this with some homemade baby gherkins, pickled heirloom red onions, and Whole grain mustard.  The terrine is very rich, unctuous and porky.  You need that little blast of acid to really appreciate it.  Check out the cross section below.
You can really see all of the pieces of belly, skin, and trotter meat.  As well as some of the peppercorns.  This was a really fun and tasty creation.  I hope more people will go back to this traditional way of cooking.  Spending the time and hard work into something and watching peoples faces when they eat your food is worth everything.  I also make four smaller shallow terrines.  These here I will lightly bread and pan fry.  The result is a crispy exterior and a meltingly porky middle.  Not for the people who are not big pork fans.  But if you are not big pork fans you have really stumbled across the wrong blog.

Next big benefit of making this terrine is the trotter gear.  This porky jello, has so much damn flavor, and gelatin in it you can feel it on your lips for a while after eating.  This is a great addition to finish a sauce, it will give a great sheen, flavor and mouth feel.  I will never be without this in my fridge going forward.  Look how beautiful it is.

The ultimate Jello Jiggler!!!!  Remember, "Source local, and Love your Meat"!!!


  1. Looks good man. Next time try this. Fold in some veal sweetbread nuggets that have been pan fried along with some foie gras cubes that u froze then dredged in flour and pan fried then put back in freezer to stop cooking. Fold that in with trotter meat and some shaved black truffle and I think I just filled the cup. Good job

  2. Not sure if you are aware, but there are errors in Charcuterie. Namely the over-use of nitrites. Check the hot dog recipe, nearly double what is required. I even sent Mr. Ruhlman an email and he replied. He said they were aware of the problem and were working on a new book which I believe is out now. He is a wonderful person, just made a mistake. Like your site.

  3. Oh FFS Cheryl. Jeez. Not only are we not allowed to actually eat it. We now can't even think about it. Everything is a risk. Even sitting under a concrete ceiling.