I have always heard stories from people of my parents' generation, in particular Irish, talking about how wonderful and tasty the part of the pig that separates it from the muck on the ground is. Perhaps as adults we find delight in terrifying those younger with, almost cannibalistic, tales of gnawing on the pink feet not dissimilar to an ogre would. What I do not understand is why none of these people are eating them nowadays. Maybe these people did find them delicious....until they first tried proper bacon and after comparing, decided to abandon all but the story telling factor.
Although I have read that trotters have transcended the working class arena of years ago into the very poshest of restaurants. Trotters are making a comeback so look out for them on those menus! They would most likely be prepared differently to how I done them, without the bones.
Crubeens were traditionally a pub snack on Saturday evenings or on stalls by pubs who did not sell them. The grease and salt being used to good effect and driving up the sales of stout (a tactic well used by publicans worldwide in one way or another).
What you need:
Trotters, I used 2 (from your butcher, might be more difficult to find than bacon rashers)
Lots of salt and water
What you do:
- Wash trotters thoroughly (they have been been marinated in muck for years!). Can be quite difficult if you do not like looking and washing your dinner with it's hair and nails still on.
- Cover with salted water and soak overnight or at least 12 hours.
- Rinse and cover with fresh cold water and bring to the boil.
- Remove scum that forms at water surface.
- Lower heat and simmer for 3 hours or until tender.
- Drain and serve with mustard, soda bread and a pint of stout.
Furthermore the boiled trotters can be rolled in beaten egg, then dry breadcrumbs and fried in bacon fat or just roasted in the oven to make the outsides nice and crispy.
I have to admit at this stage that I did not get to try my own crubeens. I learnt an invaluable lesson about shelf life of trotters. I got them from the butchers and kept them in the fridge for 3 days before cooking which I thought would not be a problem. There was a slight smell when I was photographing them but nothing terrible or unexpected. I was told there can be a distinct smell associated with them when they are cooking and that did not worry me.
However soon after they had come to the boil, the house stank. I mean there was a stench like nothing I have ever imagined. I thought it would go away but after a couple of hours even with every window open , it just got worse and worse. I chucked a few onions in at some point hoping to blunt the smell but no joy (possibly why aromatic herbs are used widely, to curb the boiling bacon smell).
I had to stop boiling them as family members started to develop trembling in their legs.
In the end, the kitchen was quarantined and out of action and i was sent out to KFC.
I do not know if they were off to start with or my 3 day delay was too long but my one message to you is: use them on the day of purchase (or separation if your a farmer), or buy them cured so they have less chance of being, or going off.
I really want to taste these as the meat is supposed to be extremely tender and I am determined to try everything once so when the day comes that I pluck up the courage to attempt them again this site will be updated.