Twitter can easily inspire you to cook new food especially when you follow cooks. Every man, woman and his dog has got themselves online and have started blogging and sharing with other people their food loves and what they are eating, cooking and growing. The top trends we’ve been seeing online is seasonal cooking and eating locally but this month I’ve been inspired to be involved in the Pork Off 2011. It was mentioned back in January here. When I last checked the only person who had entered cooked a delicious looking pork bomb and had gone into great detail about what they would try to cook if they had the time. Rumbles of making a sort of Russian Doll of pork had been mentioned and it just fuelled me to get down to the local butcher (Gary Kemp & Son in Nottingham) and grab myself some meat.

After doing a little bit of research and dreaming about pork, I’ve decided to do a take on a few different dishes. I say it’s challenging because I’ve never used one of the ingredients (trotter) and I’m not so sure it will go to plan. The first part of the dish will be Pork Trotters. My only experience of trotters is a little blurred due to time lapsing. Four years ago in a restaurant, The Three Fishes in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire. Here I had my first taste of pigs feet. They were stuffed with succulent trotter meat and black pudding stuffing. It was a melt in the mouth meat experience. They completely transformed the way I ate cuts of meat. Instead of going for breast or fillets I started to choose cheaper cuts of meat that needed slower cooking or more persuading to become delicious dishes. This was part of the seed that had been sown to make me love food.

Why should we eat Pig’s feet? When most people are confronted with me saying, “I ate trotters last night” they think I’m disgusting. I would love to prove to these people that trotters can be fantastic. With just a little digging around online you can see that pigs trotters are favoured by many people for the tase and glutinous texture they provide to a dish. One man swears that the trotter meat completely transforms his otherwise basic Coq au Vin into something a bit more porky and divine. The UK exports most of it’s trotters to China. Maybe we need to convince the public that the trotter is not something that we should be shipping half way around the world if we want to live more sustainably.

If you eat meat, you should be willing to accept the fact that most of the animal goes to waste in this country, the supermarket shelves are stacked with fillets, breast meat and not a sign of any trotter on the shelves. A good butcher will be able to get them but it’s normally something you have to request as they don’t keep them in stock due to the lack of interest. These Trotters were cheap. I got 6 of them for £5 and they provided enough substance and stock for 4 trotter based meals for the rest of the week. I bet you couldn’t do that with a pack of bacon for £2 or a pork chop pack for £5. One day I hope that the supermarkets will have their own selection of good, slow cooked food like trotters and lamb cheeks. My butcher in Nottingham sounded a little bit surprised when I rang him and asked for lamb cheeks today for next week. He said that they normally get inspected and then dyed blue and binned – WHAT?! Why the flipper are we binning meat? So I’ve ordered a bag full, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Back to the dam PorkOff2011 Trotters do not seem easy to cook as demonstrated here where she says that “there’s hardly any meat on them and what meat there is tastes (to me) bland at best and disgusting at worse.” Oh boy I might have to stuff them with something strong and tasty and add some extra meat – excellent. With a little bit of thought, time and experimenting, hopefully they will be delicious pork trotters stuffed with dried  Char Far mushrooms and more meat inside and as a extra on the side just in case the trotters are a flop.

So here is my recipe

Marinade the meat for cooking before stuffing into the trotters

Pork Neck in Char Siu sauce To make your own see below or you can always just buy a jar of the stuff from a local Chinese Shop. For this recipe we made our own although we didn’t leave it to marinade for a whole day which is really necessary to bring out the best flavours, however just a couple of hours whilst you do the trotters would do as well.

  • The Pork – 600g of neck fillet
  • 1 tablespoon of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 6 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Red Bean curd
  • 2 tablespoons of wine (I was meant to use rice wine but didn’t have any so used some old white from last week – oops)
  • A big spoon of honey/syrup
  • 1 teaspoon five-spice (5 spice) powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • Glug of sesame oil – about a tablespoon
  • Inch cube or so of fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed.
  1. Make the marinade. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients and stir until blended. If it seems a little thin then some cornflour could be added.
  2. Pour the sauce into a zip-lock bag or large dish. 3. Chop the pork into around 4 strips, so they are about an inch wide and long
  3. Place the pork in the bag or into the dish then roll it around in the marinade until it is completely covered and looking sticky. Set aside for at least 2 hours, if you have the time or are prepping this in advance then leave overnight. Someone said that they leave theirs for 42 hours but I do not have the fridge space for that or the ability to plan my meals that far in advance.
  4. Pour a shallow layer of water in the bottom of a roasting tin. Lets say about 1cm of water. Place a roasting rack or wire cooling rack in the tin and put the meat on top, reserving some of the marinade for putting over as it is cooking.
  5. Roast at 220C/gas mark 7 for 15 minutes then turn the heat down to 180C/gas mark 4 and continue cooking for 15 minutes more, brushing over a little marinade as you go. It should look charred and delicious. Remove from the oven, rest for 5 minutes if you want to. Slice a quarter of the pork into slices to use for stuffing and save the rest for later. It will be served with the pork trotter as an extra meaty side. It can be re-heated by just popping under the grill.

For some reason I have lost the photo of what this looked like when it came out of the oven. Dam lack of proper photo organisation. New folders have been created now due to this huge error in deleting the wrong files.

The ‘Fake’ Dongo Pork Belly
It’s fake Dongpo Pork because it is meant to be made by pan-frying and then red cooking Pork Belly.The pork is then cut to around 2 inches square in dimensions, consisting of half fat and half lean meat. The mouth feel is meant to be oily but not greasy, with the fragrance of wine. Well I ignored what Dongpo Pork is and our cut was around a third fat and half lean meat and ours did not see a frying pan. Shoot me.
  • • 800g pork belly, skin scored
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 knob ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 150ml soy sauce
  • 100ml rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 2 teaspoon caster sugar
  • Onions – chopped in half and peeled
  • Apples – I had some left over – not sure they added much
  • 3 tablespoons of Chilli flakes
  • Vegetable oil – about half a litre
  1. Place the pork, garlic, ginger, soy and rice wine vinegar in a bowl, cover and place in fridge to marinate for about six hours or overnight (I marinated it for 2 hours and it turned out fine). If possible, turn the pork over a few times.
  2. Make the crust for the belly pork – Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat, stirring the Sichuan and black peppercorns for a few seconds until aromatic. Grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Add sea salt, five spice and sugar, combine and set aside.
  3. Turn the pork fat-side up on a tray and place the spice mixture on top. Leave to marinate for however long you have until cooking.
  4. Preheat oven to 200C. Cut the unpeeled onions in half and trim the tops so that they are flat and place on a baking tray skin side up along with halves of the apples.
  5. Place pork on top skin side up with the crust of spices and bake at 200c for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature to 170c for another 40 minutes until cooked through and the crust is dark and the skin a burnished red. Rest pork belly for 30 minutes.
  6. Some people will hate me for this – take off the spice crust, carefully slice the skin off the meat and pop the skin back into the oven to crisp up – or don’t use the spice crust and let the skin crisp during cooking
  7. Meanwhile, make your own red chili oil for drizzling over the dish by heating up some vegetable oil till it is nice and hot, then switch off the heat, pour the oil into a heat-proof glass jar (thick glass jar) in which the chili flakes are already put. This step could also be done with Sichuan peppercorns.

Pork Belly with spices and Bak Choy

Preparation of side dishes and stuffing mix Make the Stuffing for the trotters and for the tofu things. You can use any type of mushroom you want but I decided to use a strong Chinese Mushroom that I get dried from a big Chinese Supermarket. It says on the Packet that they are Char Far dried mushrooms but they are just dried Shiitake mushrooms

  • Inch cube or so of fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed.
  • A big handfull of mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  1. If you are using Dried Shiitake then they will need to be soaked in cold water for 30mins – be warned because whatever you soak them in well be a little smelly with mushroom water -use an old icecream tub or something similar.
  2. When the mushrooms are soaked long enough, chop them up into thin slices
  3. Heat a frying pan with a little oil – use something with not too much flavour, add the garlic and ginger then the mushrooms and fry for a couple of minutes until cooked through.
  4. Add them to a blender with the ginger and the garlic, blend into a paste using a little bit of the water you soaked them in
  5. Season to taste

Apologies for not having any photos of this step – totally forgot.

The Stuffed tofu – I used these bad boys

Found in the frozen section of the Chinese Supermarket – Yes I should have made them myself but they were a last minute addition – they are called Aburaage or deep fried tofu and when sliced open they are perfect for stuffing. I used the Char Siu Pork and the mushroom paste to stuff them with and placed on a baking sheet and heated in the oven for 15 minutes at 180C just before everything else was ready – I’m sure you could fry them but I ran out of room on the hob.

I also went a little Over The Top and made some rice to stuff the trotters with – in hindsight maybe the mushrooms would have been enough.

  • cooked rice
  • sliced red onion - preferably grown yourself! Trust me they are easy to grow and taste so much nicer
  • herbs of choice – I used chives, chive flowers and some chard leaves – again all grown my me
  • any left over shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • some desiccated coconut

Mix up all the ingredients and season to taste

Red Onions, Chive flowers, Green Salad and Coconut Rice.

The Trotters

Trotters, more trotters and boiling the dam trotters.

  • 6 or 8 trotters
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrot
  • 2 Garlic arlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 knob ginger, peeled and sliced
  • big glug of soy sauce
  • another big glug of rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 2 tablespoons chilli flakes
  • 3 star anise
  1. Place the trotters in a big pan with all the other ingredients. Cover well with cold water and bring them to the boil. Then put a lid on the pan and boil them for 2 hours stirring occasionally.
  2. When the trotters are tender carefully remove them and set them aside on a baking sheet or chopping board to cool
  3. When cool enough to handle but still warm work quickly to remove the skin from the bones, slipping it off and separating each trotter into two halves, leaving the tips of the hooves intact. WARNING - slipping the bone of the skin is not as easy as I thought it would be – most of the trotters just fell apart when i forced the skin off. Apparently I did not work delicately enough. Bah humbug

Trotter Flop

  1. Stuff each half of the de-boned foot with a scant scoop of the mushroom mixture a tad of rice mix and a thin slice of the Char Siu Pork neck fillet or thin slices of the pork belly skin, then place the halves together to make a whole foot. Transfer to the center of a sheet of foil, wrap each trotter up like a big cannelloni, and place on a plate or just straight into a bamboo steamer. Steam for about 8 minutes or until heated through, so that they shed excess fat. Use a spoon to remove the fat or just carefully lift out and serve with the rest of the meat and side dishes

Yey, one whole trotter

Happy onion from under the Dongo Belly Pork

The final dish

If you’ve reached this far – well done.

Would I recommend this dish? No way.

We spent the afternoon cooking one Sunday and it was fun, it was enjoyable trying to peel the trotters even though most of them flopped. Out of 6 of them only 1 remained in a good enough state to take a picture of. Hahaahahahahah. Cooking flop. We also preferred the Belly Pork and the neck fillet because they were more meaty, next time I ever do trotters I will pack them full of meat and bake them in the oven and then use some sort of sauce from the stock to smear them in. I’m not saying that the trotters were terrible in this dish, I’m just saying I have high standards and expectations were high on this dish because they smelled amazing. The flavour just didn’t come through in the trotter skin, it was a very glutinous texture and it really needed crisping up in the oven. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  The Dongpo Pork was fantastic and one we will have again because Rice wine Vinegar just does something incredible to the taste of the dish. The Belly pork was also fantastic. Overall I would give the dish a seven out of ten and there is no way I stand a chance in getting very far in the #PorkOff2011 Ah well, it was fun trying.

What have I learnt in taking part in an online cooking competition?

  • It’s hard to remember to take photos
  • I’m no professional chef and the kitchen was a bomb site when I was done. Good job I have a househusband fairy to tidy up after me
  • Don’t try to do too much
  • I will never be a professional chef so therefore recipes and cooking will not be featuring on my blog as much, I’ll concentrating on gardening

For those of you that don’t know, my favourite food is Chicken’s feet in black bean and chilli sauce. After trying trotters I will now be trying to cook them in a similar fashion but I might have to leave it a month or so. This dish lasted 4 days between the 2 of us. What a porky nightmare.

Edible Chive Flower Salad with the left over Trotters


5 Responses to Stuffed Pork trotters stuffed with ‘Fake’ Dongpo Pork Belly and Char Siu neck.

  1. meemalee says:

    Oh, it sounds great though – and 10/10 for enthusiasm and effort :)

    Thank you for taking part!

  2. Lorna says:

    Epic post! I am well out of my depth with blogging compared to you. Fantastic read :)

  3. It’s in point of fact a nice and helpful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you shared this useful
    information with us. Please keep us informed like this.
    Thank you for sharing.

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