Last week we cooked variety meats at Catalan cooking class. I know it's
called offal but I l have an old Betty Crocker cookbook that calls it "variety
meats" so that's what I like to call it as well.
"Variety Meats" sounds snazzy and exciting. It makes me think of game shows
and tap dancing and toupees. So much more fun than OFFAL.
As we all know, we Americans are not a nation of offal-eaters. It turns out
the rest of the world knows this too and therefore, everytime it is served in
Spain, everyone looks at me and comments that I'm probably not accustomed to
eating tripe or brains or liver or kidney or whatever unusual speciman that happens to
be on the plate. They're always somewhat smug about it and I'm not sure they
should because although it is true that many more Spanish people like **!variety
meats!** than Americans, there are still quite a few who are not fans.
Did you notice that the phrase "variety meats" was so much more appealing in
that paragraph than the word "offal-eaters"? Do you see what I mean?
Last night in class we made two different things- Cap i Pota amb Samfaina
(Stewed calf's head and foot with Samfaina), and Peus de Porc
(Pig's Feet). Peus de Porc is a traditional Catalan dish that can be made
in many different ways. Sometimes they are stuffed (with mushrooms, artichokes,
etc) but we made a sort of stew, adding picada at the end. Colman Andrews writes that
pig's feet are "delicious, with sweet succulent meat and a very pleasant
flavor." After trying them, I'm pretty sure I don't agree although I know there
are people who adore them. Our class was split down the middle and according to
the Catalan students, this is a dish that you either love or you hate. "Nobody
says, oh pig's feet, yes I like them a little bit."
Probably my appreciation for the meal was not augmented by the fact that my
Slovakian classmate kept getting the word for ham (jamón) confused with the name
Ramon. This means she would say things like "How big of pieces should we chop
Ramon into?" and "So now how long do we cook Ramon for?" When you are cooking
obvious body parts, you don't want this sort of association if you know what I
I'm not sure how easy it is to obtain pig's feet in the US. One internet
source I came across says that you should just ask your butcher and that they'll
have them in the back. It also mentions that you may need to use a disposable
razor to shave the hair off of the pig's feet and toes. Oh dear. My butcher is proud of his pig parts and he displays the feet right out in the open, next to the snout and under the ears.
I'm going to give you the recipe anyway just in case you'd like to give it a
Peus de Porc Recipe
-4 pig feet, cleaned and shaved
-3/4 cup chopped pancetta
-one bay leaf
-salt to taste
-6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
-8 oz. (220g) good ham
-one half a green pepper, seeded and chopped
-1/2 cup picada
1. Heat at least a quarter inch of olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven
or other heavy pot.
2. Add about 3/4 cup chopped pancetta and cook until done. Remove, drain off
fat and set aside.
3. Add 3 finely chopped onions, a pinch of salt and a bay leaf to the
same oil, reduce heat and cook on low heat until onions are soft and transparent.
4. Add 6 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped. Simmer for a few minutes.
5. Add a big hunk of good ham (about half a pound) and continue simmering
6. Add half a green pepper (diced)
7. Put the cooked pancetta back in the pot
8. Now put those pig footsies into the pot and pour in just enough water to
9. Simmer uncovered for 1- 2 hours. Continually add more
water to keep the feet covered. When the feet are ready, they should be tender.
About 5 minutes before the end, stir in your picada to thicken the