Pigs’ trotters with ginger and vinegar

Pigs’ trotters with ginger and vinegar,

Last year, I posted a recipe for Pig’s trotters with vinegar which I got by interrogating my MIL for her secret recipe. I never cooked this traditional Cantonese food myself because MIL made the pig’s trotters often. There was usually a pot of it on the back burner.

Sadly, MIL passed away last month and in, the process of clearing out her kitchen, I found half a dozen bottles of the special vinegar she used. I decided I would replicate her recipe.

Then I unearthed a twenty year old slow cooker, unused, in its original box. I am a fan of the pressure cooker and never cooked with a crock pot. But the pig’s trotters have to be simmered for hours and it seemed a good idea to use a slow cooker.

I discovered that the slow cooker is the perfect pot for cooking pig’s trotters. Just plug it in and let it cook all day long. The pork skin becomes soft and tender and the bones have fallen off. There is nothing to do once the ingredients are placed in the cooker. There is no burnt food or pots. The sauce didn’t boil over causing a mess on the stove. I’m a convert! I can’t wait to try other recipes in the slow cooker. I have in mind to cook white cut chicken and soy sauce chicken in the cooker.

Mr. KC said that cooking the trotters in a slow cooker is not the tradtional way. I countered that his late mother cooked them in a Le Creuset pot on the electric stove. How traditional is that?

The traditional way was to cook them in the large, urn-like clay pots over a charcoal fire but I doubt that many people do that. Anyway, how far back do we go for tradition? In the old days there was no electricity or indoor plumbing, let alone TV in the village in China. I doubt Mr. KC would go for that! My view is that I would use anything that works and is safe.

On to the recipe. It is really easy.

Ginger has medicinal properties. It is an aid to digestion. It is considered to have a calming effect and helps to expel “wind”. It also has high levels of vitamin C.

Ingredients:

Pig’s trotters (the 2 hands and feet of a pig) about 6 lbs
2 or 3 bottles of Pat Chun vinegar
2 or 3 lbs of ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 package of brown slab sugar
Peeled, hard boiled eggs, as many as you like.

Pat Chun vinegar. MIL considered this to be the best vinegar. She wouldn’t use any other vinegar for this dish. She also insisted that the vinegar shouldn’t be diluted with water but used neat.

Method:

1. Boil the trotters for about 10 minutes. Wash them under cold running water to remove the scum. You might want to check the skin for bristles. Use tweezers to remove the hairs if you wish.

2. Make a ginger syrup by melting the sugar in about a cup of water. Add the pieces of ginger and cook for about 20 minutes. Or cook the syrup in the microwave for about 10 minutes.

3. Put the meat, ginger syrup and vinegar in the slow cooker. Mr. KC said that the meat and ginger should be submerged in the vinegar but I didn’t do so because I was afraid the sauce would boil over. My dish worked out fine with 2 bottles of vinegar.

4. Turn on the slow cooker and let it do its job. The trotters are ready when the skin is soft and the sauce has a gelatinous quality to it.

5. Put the peeled, hard boiled eggs in the sauce and simmer them for a few hours. You may add them at the beginning but I put them in after the meat had simmered for a couple of hours. Mr. KC and his family love these eggs. The eggs sit in the sauce for a day or two to absorb the flavours otherwise they consider them to be too “fresh”. I never eat them as I dislike eating eggs with the grey ring around the yolk.

Pigs’ trotters with ginger and vinegar, slow-cooked for about eight hours. It is better to leave the dish to sit for a day for the flavours to develop. But people will be dipping into the pot for a taste, just to see if the skin is soft enough!
MIL never refrigerated this dish. She left the pot on the back burner and said that the vinegar acted as a preservative. Every other day, she would bring the sauce back to a boil and simmer the trotters for about half an hour. My SIL tried to convince her mom it wasn’t safe to leave cooked food out but MIL said no one had ever died eating gingered trotters and refused to do so. Do as you wish, put the dish in the refrigerator if you don’t feel comfortable about unrefrigerated food.

Try this dish. It is delicious, easy and so nourishing. 

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