Putting My Best Foot Forward


Earlier this month, I found myself navigating an incredibly packed room of hungry foodies at New York magazine’s New York Taste event, where hundreds of us alternately pushed in front of each other for a chance to taste the dozens of appetizer-size samples from New York’s trendiest eateries. Most of the dishes on hand were your usual suspects: Kobe beef sliders, high-end BBQ brisket, amped-up oysters, creative panna cottas and the like. But then I walked by the station for chef Ed Brown’s Eighty One and found something I hadn’t tried before.

“Crispy trotter with slow cooked egg?” offered one of the sous chefs, as she slid a tantalizingly yolk-topped plate my way.

I didn’t quite know what she was talking about, but her dish sure followed the ES mantra that anything fried and topped with an egg can’t be bad. I eagerly snatched the offering from her and quickly zeroed in with my spoon, asking almost as an afterthought, “so what is trotter?”

“Oh, actually,” she replied “It’s pig’s feet.”

Wow, props on Eighty One, mostly just for having the balls to serve hoighty-toighty New Yorkers plates of pig’s feet without even mentioning what they were. As you can see above, this snack looked more like some kind of potato pancake of fried croquette than anything that contained itty bitty piggy toes. Maybe everyone else there was more schooled in the ways of pork parts than I, but I’m pretty sure at least a few folks must have gone home that night having no idea that they just feasted on swine appendages. Personally, I was ever-so-slightly weirded out, but with my spoon already halfway to the plate, I could hardly bow out at that point.

And the verdict? Totally licked my plate clean and would eat another right now. It had a rich, almost earthy taste. Definitely a strong, offal-y vibe to it, but nothing as harsh as say, chicken liver. Plenty of grease in there, although it didn’t really make me think of pork. Regardless, I’m a fan. Although to be honest, I have no idea if I love trotters or if I just love fried things topped with runny eggs, because again, how bad could anything prepared that way be?

According to the folks across the pond, trotters are poised for a recession-chic moment, which is just fine by me, although I’m curious as to whether I’d actually like them without the breading and egging.

They’re not on the regular menu at Eighty One, but now I’m eager to explore. Anyone out there have a trotter experience to report? Or know where we can sample them further?

(Photo: Zacharycohen)

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  • gansie November 17, 2009  

    i love the names people give not-often-eaten animal parts.
    sweetbreads my ass.

  • Summerfields Foods November 20, 2009  

    Yep have used them to make jelly to go in a traditional English Pork Pie and I made a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe that was a chinese honey slow cooked trotter recipe. It tasted really nice but I think I did the first step wrong browning them as that smelt real bad and it was hard to forget when eating it 😉

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