Monday, June 23, 2008

Mission: PDC Maple Pig's Feet

So... once again, back is the incredible, edible pig's foot. Now with more... maple?

We don't have a real set procedure as to which one of us (Melissa or Jacob) chooses the recipe of the week. It's usually a collaborative process - using our favorite problem solving tool (banter) - but this week, M approached J and simply said "it's your turn to choose!" And so he flipped through, looking at this and looking at that, but he kept coming back to this recipe. There was so much going for it. To wit:

1. It's primary ingredients are two pigs feet with shanks. (Yummy!)
2. It takes advantage vegetables that we can get at our favorite farmer's market. (Fresh!)
3. It requires a long braise. (Easy-peasy!)

But... it also prominently featured Maple Syrup. And despite our stunningly great experience with the pouding, Jacob was skittish about this. He's always been suspect of maple - and syrups in general - associating them with the two breakfast foods he least likes: pancakes and french toast. On too many Sundays mornings in his childhood, he would fruitlessly try to increase his enjoyment of those dishes by adding whatever syrup was available and ending up with a mushy, oversweet mess on his plate; and invariably he would end up going hungry after refusing to eat his creation.

So there was trepidation. For a moment - but then, it evaporated as he thought to himself: "Surely, Mrs. Butterworth has nothing on authentic Canadian Maple Syrup! I must Trust in Chef Picard! I must have faith! I must move forward! I must let go of my fear!"

And so it was that he chose PDC Maple Pig's Feet for this week.

In the beginning, there was mis en place:


Note that we had brined the feet and shanks for just under 24 hours, in the fridge, before getting started. (Many thanks to our very favorite local butcher - Avedano's -who miraculously produced these for us with about 5 minutes notice!) Now, at this point, we had nearly defrosted our "pig stock" - about a half gallon's worth - in our pan:


And so we started to put everything else into it. First the shanks, then the carrots and onions (fresh from the farmer's market):


And then some garlic. And now we added the (dreaded?) maple syrup to the mix:


And then it was time to braise. For a long, long time; with bastings on the half hour. Easy enough, right?!? So we basted once:


And again:


And a few more times for good measure:


Until it was time to pull it, and it looked like this:


So we pulled the feet out and put them aside. We took out the veggies and put them aside as well. While Jacob diced the carrots, Melissa strained the "stock":


It was at this point that we discovered that the "stock" was actually... ONION SOUP BASE! That's right! We had been braising the poor pig's feet in the extra onion soup base that we had made for an earlier chapter of the project! We panicked for a moment and then thought that, well... the base was, after all, made from pork stock... so perhaps it would be a happy accident! Perhaps all would be well! (And really, it tasted amazing, so we weren't all that worried.)

So, then we added the carrots and onions back into it and cooked it down a bit, like so:


At this point we put down a nice bed of PDC mashed potatoes (which take to freezing quite well, we found!), stuck a shank and foot on top, and poured some sauce atop the whole thing, just so:


And then we ate.

Oh my. The skin was delicious and sweet and crunchy (even though had been braised mercilessly). The sauce was salty-sweet, in good proportion. But the sweetness was not overtly maple. M said that she would have been hard pressed to identify it as maple, had she not known it to be so. Jacob thought very much the same thing.

Regardless, this was delicious, more than delicious - super muy licious. We have gone from being braising believers to being braising zealots. And we are considering what to braise in pork stock - or onion soup base - and maple syrup next. Cornish game hens? Salmon? Lamb? This will be revisited in an OOS, we are sure.

Note to selves: Just because it's labelled "pork stock" in the freezer, that doesn't mean that it's pork stock. Could be onion soup base, after all.

Note to selves, 2.0: Onion soup base makes a good substitute for pork stock!

Time, mis to eat: About 5 hours, not including brining (+24 hours).

Next Up: Not sure! It's Melissa's turn to pick! :)

Blast From the Past: Let's talk about stock, baby.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Sounds like a great meal. I love maple syrup - having been a New England adoptee, I am used to seeing everything with maple syrup and there is no comparison between the real stuff and the fake stuff! I have never had pigs feet before, but prepared like this, I would certainly try it.

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