How do you like your feet?
- ipsedixit Sep 11, 2011 08:11 PM
Pig trotters? Cow? The always ubiquitous chicken at Dim Sum? Duck perhaps? Goose maybe?
Does anyone prepare or eat sheep or lamb's feet?
What about something like kangaroo?
And what of deer feet?
So, what say you.
How do you take your feet?
The pig's feet that so delighted me in Chartres were the sort you'll find in James Beard: simmered gently until so tender the bones are almost edible, then split open and the bones and meat extracted. The bones are discarded, the meat chopped up and mixed with sausage meat and laid back upon the skin, and the whole thing rolled back into shape. These are then spread with mustard, rolled in crumbs, drizzled with butter and then grilled to a golden brown. Mrs. O, on the other hand, prefers them cooked just until the meat is done, then she tears into them and licks and gnaws the meat and edible gristle off the bones.
I think sheep's feet are the "pieds" referred to in the old bistro dish "Pieds et Paquets." The "paquets" are little bundles of tripe. I believe the components of the dish are cooked separately and then combined in the gratin pan, sauced and crumbed, and then given a short trip through a hot oven. My pa-in-law had that at Café Europa in Aix-en-Provence, while I had the Tripes Provençal. I didn't get a taste of his, as he was not the sharing kind, so I can't tell you what the feet are like. Guess I'll just have to go back, darn it.
I like the brown chicken feet at dim sum. I don't care for the cold white ones. And I tolerate the occasional calve's foot in menudo or Bun Bo Hue, but it's really just a PITA as far as I'm concerned, taking up space better used for something more completely edible.
I buy them to add body to a beef daube. After cooking in that sauce for a good while, I remove them, let them cool, and it's cook's treat, picking happily at them. The daube is dinner-party stuff, a situation when no one is apt to be picking the foot and sucking on the gristly bits.
Feet - still one of those inexpensive "off cuts" as no chef has yet managed to popularize them as a lux item.
I had lamb's feet in Burgos - they were so good that I wound up ordering a second ración which had the waiter looking at me funny. They had been braised in tomato and wine and were really tender. I would make them but it's hard to get lamb's feet
I don't generally order the chicken feet at dim sum because the restaurants are inconsistent with their preparation. I *would* order them if I were in Taiwan. But there's a dry prep that's less messy to eat than the steamed ones and make a nice alternative to wings while watching television.
Goose feet a rarity, except in Taiwan, where they're just expensive. Duck is always nice.
Pig - am working on a deboned sous-vide trotter right now. My favorite is braised in soy, but I'll eat them in pretty much any preparation. Cow is nice, again braised.
Bear paw (which is a foot) was somewhat fatty for my taste. Never seen kangaroo or deer, and I can only get rabbit's foot as a keychain. I get the same expression of horror asking for rabbit foot as if I was asking for rabbit ears.
My father used to make a special treat of lamb or cow trotter's in a spicy yellow curry, simmered very slowly until the tender meat absolutely floated in sauce made sticky and rich from marrow and collagen.
I usually have pork trotters in the freezer to add body to stews, though they are also very good braised until tender and then deep fried so that the skin becomes shatteringly crisp while the meat is soft and juicy. I seem to also recall another recipe for a whole trotter, deboned and then filled with sausages and savories, similar to the Chinese process of deboning duck and goose feet and then treating them like a casing for pork sausage.
I am guessing your dad's cow or mutton/lamb trotters was the dish paya? I do love paya even though it is awkward to eat. I prefer beef paya. Standard paya is eaten with naan. But I had a friend whose father in-law was from a place in Northern Pakistani Punjab called Attock---her father in-law showed me how they made their paya. It contained a handful of chickpeas slow simmered with the feet so you got a few in your bowl of paya. They soaked up the foot juice and taste so delicious. And he said in Attock they eat their paya with makkai ki roti, or corn flour roti instead of naan, and he made some for us. It was a very memorable meal, so rustic and rich.
In a lot of other fancy/festive dishes the secret to richness of flavor is to stick a secret foot in the gravy. Many people put a foot in their nihari or haleem. I have also had foot in kunna gosht which is goat meat cooked in a clay pot buried in a fired sandpit for a few hours. I love kunna gosht with foot because you get all of the meat chunks but in the sticky, thick rich paya type broth.
In Pakistan and India people say that eating paya helps people with achy joints and knee problems-anything to do with bones/joints.
If your everyday diet is not a rich one, that may be true. However, if you're eating like most Americans, this is a good way to have your first experience of gout. All those gooey yummy melted collagens are gout-inducing, as are gelatin and anything made from malt. I've learned sometime back that if I have a nice rich broth of any kind, I need to drink lots of water and then take a pill before I go to bed. And a good stout gumbo and a pint of beer? Don't even think about it!
It was indeed paya. I think lamb and cow trotters are mostly popular amongst South Asians because even at our Palestinian- and Egyptian-owned butchers, trotters were labeled "paya" in Roman script. Your Punjabi dish sounds like a good variation -- the kind I grew up came with just a simple sauce and plenty of chopped cilantro to balance the funky richness from the paya. I'll have to try trotters in haleem, as if that dish could get any richer!