(Chicago) – The abundance of skin, fats and soft tissues in pig’s trotters/feet or simply called, ”pata”, in Filipino, makes me love this part of the pig. Given enough time to cook, the fats will melt, tissue will soften into jellies, the meat will peel off from the bones and the bones will release deep meaty flavor to the broth.
Pig’s trotter’s use is not only limited to “crispy pata” and “pata tim”. Recently I chanced upon this wonderful estofado recipe by Loreto Del Mundo-Relove in Amy Besa’s Memories of Philippine Kitchens. (Kudos!). I whipped up the dish with a little revision to suit the tools and ingredients in my kitchen. The outcome is outstanding. The dish is deliciously sweet and tangy. Here’s the original recipe from the book and the fantastic shots I took while making the dish.
- 1 ½ cups soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 ½ pounds pig trotters (pata), cut into 4 pieces
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 cups rice vinegar
- 6 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 head garlic cloves, peeled
- 4 shallots, quartered
- 2 ripe plantains, sliced lengthwise to get 4 pieces
Pour ½ cup of the soy sauce into a large non-reactive bowl and add the pepper. Add the pata and turn to coat them in the soy sauce, Cover, refrigerate and let marinate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
Place the sugar in deep, large pot. Drizzle 2 tablespoons water over the top. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, gently swirling the pan but not stirring, until the sugar has melted into a deep amber-colored syrup (watch carefully, as this speeds up toward the end and you don’t want to overdarken it –if you do, simply start again).
While the sugar is caramelizing, pour the vinegar into a separate pot. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Slowly add the boiling vinegar to the caramelized sugar – the mixture will spit, so take care and stand away from the pot as you pour. Swirl, then stir to combine. Set aside.
Remove the trotters from the marinade, reserving the marinade. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm ¼ cup oil. Add the trotter to the pan, in batches, and sear until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Add the trotters to the sugar-vinegar mixture. Add the reserved marinade, the remaining 1 cup soy sauce, the garlic and shallots. Add water to cover, simmer for about 2 hours or until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Remove the trotters from the pot, raise the heat and cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
While the sauce is reducing, fry the plantains: Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the plantains and cook until softened and lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes.
When the sauce has thickened, return the trotters to the pot, add the plantains, heat to warm through, about 5 minutes.