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What are Pork Trotters?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Pork trotters are, as you might have imagined, the feet of a pig. They are typically sold with part of the shank attached, although it is also possible to find pig's feet sold alone. Both the front and hind trotters are edible, and they can be used in a variety of dishes. They are especially popular in Asia and parts of the American South, but they also pop up in cuisine from other regions, such as France and Germany.

The practice of consuming pork trotters dates back to a period when people felt obligated to use every part of the animals they hunted or slaughtered. The need to use meat efficiently was the inspiration for a number of creative recipes, and many of these dishes are actually quite flavorful and complex, sometimes out of a desire to conceal their origins. Today, such dishes continue to be prepared to celebrate regional cultural heritage, and they are often available at traditional restaurants.

One classic preparation for pork trotters is pickling. Before pickling, the feet are cooked so that they are tenderized, and then they can be submerged in a brine. Any number of things can be added to the pickling brine; in Asia, for example, very spicy pickling preparations can be found. Pickled pig's feet are often eaten as a standalone snack, and they can also be shredded over salads and other dishes.

Pig's feet can also be braised, stewed, baked, roasted, or cooked in other ways. Because the muscle and tendons on pork trotters are very stringy, it is important to cook them slowly, and for a long time, to ensure that the meat tenderizes. Once the meat is falling from the bone, the feet are ready to be served.

One nutritional bonus to this dish is that it is very high in gelatin, because as the feet cook, the hooves will release their natural gelatin. Gelatin promotes the growth of healthy hair and nails, for people who have problems with thin or brittle hair and nails. Some people also believe that the high collagen level in pork trotters is beneficial, as it can help the skin retain natural moisture.

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.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By Penzance356 — On Jun 02, 2011

@Windchime - I know exactly what you mean. I always loved meat so long as it came in a recognisable form. I had endless variations on recipes for pork loin roast or pork and sauerkraut. So long as the meat didn't look too much like the animal it had been I was happy!

Two things changed my thinking. One was marrying someone from an Asian background and being introduced to a whole new way of thinking about food. The second was getting a book of crockpot recipes for pork as a wedding gift.

At least twice a month I whip up a wonderful Chinese organic pork trotter recipe, made with ginger and lots of vegetables. The meat just about melts in your mouth and few people who try it can resist a second helping.

By Windchime — On May 31, 2011

I was looking for pork chop recipes when I found this article. I'm kind of interested in trying a pork trotter but I have no idea what to serve with it. Somehow I don't think the usual mashed potatoes and vegetables would do it.

By anon61972 — On Jan 23, 2010

pork trotters boiled with herbs and garlic, boned and set in gelatin like brawn or potted meat --yum! and so cooling in summer.

By anon39400 — On Aug 01, 2009

Not to mention that pork trotters are one of the most delicious dishes I have ever tasted.

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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