The feet of a hog are a staple of several cultures' cuisines. In Ireland, they are referred to as crubees. In Korea, they are called jokbal. Many people refer to them as pig's feet (or trotters), and they are popular in the southern part of the United States. Pig's feet do not appeal to all people and are considered an acquired taste.
For centuries, the less desirable parts of a pig usually were eaten by poor people because they were the parts of the pig that more affluent people would not touch. After a pig was butchered and patrons selected chops, roasts and ground meat to make sausage, the remaining parts of the pig were either thrown away or sold to poorer patrons for less money. Among these parts were the pig's ears, snout, tail and feet. As people became more affluent, pig's feet remained a part of a culture's cuisine, partly because of desire and also as a way for people to remain connected to their roots.
Pig trotters can be cooked in a variety of ways. They can be smoked, fried, barbecued, baked, pickled or any combination of these. Pig's feet generally are considered an appetizer or a delicacy instead of the main meat of a meal. In Korean cultures, however, pig trotters soaked in soy sauce and spices and then fried, is considered a main dish.
In the U.S., people who dine on pig trotters usually choose the pickled variety. The feet are rubbed with salt and allowed to sit for several hours. Then the salt is rinsed off and the feet are boiled until tender. The water is drained, and a brine is created with vinegar, pickle juice and spices of the preparer's choosing.
After the brine has been allowed to boil for at least 30 minutes, the pig's feet are boiled in the brine. Then they are canned and stored in a cool, dry place for several days to a week. After the waiting period, the trotters are ready to be enjoyed.
If preparing them is too much work, they often can be purchased in grocery stores, delicatessens and restaurants. They are especially popular in soul food restaurants and diners in the southern U.S. Many people consider pig's feet to be something everyone should try at least once — if only to be able to say that they have been tried.