Monday, December 13, 2010

Hot to Trot(ters)

If you watched last night's pork-centric episode of Food(ography) on the Cooking Channel, then you know that pig's feet (a.k.a. trotters) and I go way back. I grew up eating them relatively plain. Just pile 'em high on a plate, and I'm happy. But for most people, a tasty little disguise is probably the best way to introduce trotters into your repertoire. Here's the recipe for the Pig's Feet Wasabi Griddle Cakes I made on the show. I served this to a crowd of Philadelphians at a "Southern Hospitality" dinner at my friend Mitch Prensky's restaurant Supper, back in September. People went bananas for them. Trust me, eating pig's feet isn't as weird as you may think, and they're actually really delicious.

Pig’s Feet Wasabi Griddle Cakes

Pig’s Feet:
3 pig’s feet
1 gallon water
3 cloves garlic
1 knob ginger sliced
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 lemon sliced

Griddle Cake Batter:
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 ears of corn shucked
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup wasabi powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 bunch chopped scallions

Clarified butter for cooking

Sweet sorghum to finish for garnish

For pig’s feet:
Soak pig’s feet in water for an hour. Drain pig’s feet from water and use a kitchen torch to remove the tiny hairs. Put into a pot with the rest of the ingredients, turn on heat to simmer. Braise four hours, until tender. Pull out finished pig’s feet from the braising liquid, transfer to a cutting board and separate meat from bones.

For griddle cakes:
Put all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Whisk the eggs and buttermilk in a separate bowl, then combine the wet and dry ingredients to make a pancake-like batter.

Fold the pig’s feet into the batter along with some chopped scallions. Drizzle a bit of clarified butter into a skillet and fry coin sized griddle cakes in the pan, about 45 seconds on each side.

Serve warm with a drizzle of sorghum on top.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Porking Out

I recently filmed a segment for the Cooking Channel show Food(ography) with Mo Rocca. The episode is all about pork, and I cooked pigs' feet wasabi griddle cakes and pork shoulder. The show is a bit more cerebral and scholarly than most of the food-based shows on TV these days. It – and some of the other shows on The Cooking Channel – remind me of the early days of The Food Network when the programming was actually about, well, food. For all of Mario’s hamming in front of the camera, I still miss Molto Mario and the free-style nature of the years past when food TV was still in its infancy. I think The Cooking Channel is attempting to recapture some of that with new faces, a more natural and less scripted style.

For this shoot, it took about six hours for what amounts to a final product of a few minutes. It’s like starting with 100 pounds of bones that will end up becoming a few quarts of sauce. But I loved the intensity and attention to detail involved in getting every frame correct. There’s a railway just down the street from my restaurant, and when we were shooting outside, the trains would howl past every 5 minutes. Funny, when you live with these sounds for so long, you don’t hear them anymore. For the production crew, however, it was crucial not to have even the slightest disruptive noise. So, we’d shoot for a few minutes and then wait till the train cleared (and these are long trains), then do it again with each oncoming train. It delayed the shoot, but the patience and professionalism of the crew were inspiring.

My only regret is not getting to meet Mo. He’s such a goofball.