Pig’s trotters (feet) are not for the feint of heart. They are gelatinous, chewy, and a lot of work to pick a little meat out of the mass of bone and cartilage.
One of ELV’s enduring taste memories of Gay* Paree is of polishing off a huge stuffed trotter and a bottle of Beaujolais, alone at 5:00 am one chilly morning, at Au Pied de Cochon in the First Arrondissment, as we waited to go to the airport. The sole waiter was busy mopping the floor as we stumbled in. The place was as brightly lit as it would be at midday, yet there wasn’t a soul or sound in sight. “Un pied de cochon et une bouteille de Beaujolais,” was our order to his astonishment. One of those thin, Frenchy smiles crossed his lips, and we could almost see him shaking his head as he retired to the kitchen — no doubt to awaken a drowsy cook who thought he was done for the night — to give him an order from a crazy American who didn’t know what he was ordering. “Mais oui,” we insisted, and off he went.
Fifteen minutes later a huge, crusted foot was deposited by the half smiling waiter, who happily accepted our offer to pour him a verre of the Juliénas we were quaffing. It was work, but picking those pieces of crusty pork out of that foot while surrounded by a gleaming Beaux Arts brasserie, without a distraction, focused our palate on the glories of this rustic piece of French gastronomy, a piece de pied too often ignored by Americans.
Eating the foot of another animal, in all its nasty complexity, is not to everyone’s taste. But chefs like Delmonico’s Ronnie Rainwater make it easy for you by removing the pork bits and using them as a forcemeat for a fresh sausage that delivers all of that sweet, porcine pungency without all of that digging, chewing and spitting.
For those that insist, he leaves a part of the unfettered cooked foot on the plate for you to pick away at.
The above was a very special special, cooked by Rainwater and the Delmonico crew for an event in New York, and is probably no longer available at the restaurant. But it was so phenomenal in construction and flavor we had to show it as an Eat This Now feature….if only to make Slapsie Maxie jealous.
In the Venetian Resort and Casino
3355 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
* As in cheerful, blithe and winsome.