Saturday, 14 April 2007

Slow cooked pig trotter and hock terrine

Serves about 10 as a starter.

2 pig's trotters, each chopped into 3 or 4 pieces
A 1kg unsmoked ham hock
300g fatty pork belly strips
2 small onions, roughly chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bayleaves
1 large glass white wine
1 tsp redcurrant or crab apple jelly
Salt and freshly ground pepper


I didn't ask the butcher to cut the trotters into pieces as I wanted to try out my new cleaver. Big mistake, I was hacking away for a while, so get your friendly butcher to see to this for you.

I made this in a slow cooker. I am a big fan of the slow cooker, especially where bones are concerned. The product is always that bit richer and I have been known to leave it running on the lowest setting for 24 hours. You could just as easily use a heavy saucepan or a cast iron casserole.

Wash the trotter pieces well being sure to clean between the toes (a strange sensation to say the least), then place in the slow cooker, along with the whole hock, belly, vegetables and herbs. Pack everything in as well as possible, then pour in the wine and enough cold water to cover. Turn on the slow cooker and run it for 8-10 hours. By now, the trotters will be tender and the skin should fall away from the bone. Remove the meat and set aside.

Strain the cooking liquid through a sieve lined with muslin or a clean tea towel into a clean pan. Bring to the boil, reduce by three-quarters, then stir in the fruit jelly. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. You will need to add a generous pinch of good salt. Remember you're going to serve this chilled, so the flavour will be surpressed.

Pick all the skin and meat from the trotters, and the meat from the hock and belly. Here you can make a decision about how rustic you want your terrine to be. I chose to discard a lot of the skin and some of the fatty bits. On reflection, I think I was a bit heavy-handed as the terrine came out a little lean. Roughly chop the meat, skin and fat into pieces about 1cm square and put in a bowl. Stir in the prosciuto fat. Pour over the reduced cooking liquid, stir and check the seasoning again. Pack into a terrine (or several ramekins or a medium pudding basin), place a weight on top if necessary, then leave until completely cool. Chill for at least a few hours to set before serving (ideally a day or two).

Serve with crusty bread and your preference of cornichons, chutney and/or mustard.

Thursday, 5 April 2007

Ligurian Rabbit Casserole

I am having a rabbit crisis. A recent wild rabbit experience was so powerful, that I almost swore myself off them for good. Since then I have eaten a couple of delicious tame rabbits but I can't quite come to terms with the fact that I might prefer the farmed version to the natural gamey animal.

This works with farmed (I still find it funny that they call them "tame") rabbit but would probably not work quite so well with a wild beast. I'll hunt for a good wild rabbit recipe and post it shortly.


1 tame rabbit, jointed
plain flour
1/2 cup olive oil (preferably ligurian)
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves peeled but whole
a sprig of rosemary
a few sprigs of thyme
a small handfull of sage leaves
some finely chopped parsley stalks
24 black olives, stoned and halved
2 glases dry white wine
1 tablespoon concentrated tomato puree
a small amount of chicken stock


Wash and pat dry the rabbit portions. Coat them in seasoned flour and brown in a cast iron casserole over a high heat to get a bit of colour on the meat and also the pan. Brown the garlic cloves at the same time. Set the rabbit aside and add the onions, olives and herbs. Sweat them down until the onion is softened. Pour in the wine, deglaze the burnt patches on the pan and simmer off the alcohol. Return the browned rabbit to the pan along with the tomato paste and a generous seasoning.

Cook slowly either on the hob or in a medium oven for 1 and a half to 2 hours. Serve with grilled polenta

Adapted from Carluccio's Complete Italian Food