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What are Pig's Feet?

By K.A. Francis
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By Feryll — On May 24, 2014

I can understand why pig's feet are considered more of a snack or appetizer rather than the center of a meal, as the article mentions. I have seen people eat pig's feet, and there is so little meat on the feet that you would have to eat several plates full to get filled up.

By Sporkasia — On May 24, 2014

The article mentions how pig's feet were eaten by poor people who could not afford the more expensive pieces of meat that more affluent people purchased and ate. In the Unite States during slavery, slaves were often fed the scraps and less desired pieces of the animals that were butchered.

This explains why pig's feet are still seen in some soul food restaurants. In some families, as the article also mentions, the practice of eating pig's feet and other such foods continues today. However, I don't think there is an asserted effort to keep this tradition alive.

Young people are simply exposed to pig's feet because adults around them are eating the food, and the kids are tempted to try the food. For some individuals, the taste is to their liking and that is how the practice of eating pig's feet continues in many instances.

By mobilian33 — On May 23, 2014

There are some foods that are labeled bad based on where they come from rather than how they taste, and pig's feet fall into that category. If you served them in a way that I couldn't identify them as an animal's feet, and you told me they were some fancy foreign cuisine then I might actually like them, at least I might taste them.

Or you could simply blindfold me and serve them without me knowing what they are. Other than one of those scenarios, I can't imagine me actually trying them.

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