Ever since I saw Fergus Henderson demoing it at Covent Garden night market, I have wanted to have a go at making Trotter Gear. It's a simple recipe, just a traditional stew with trotters in, shredded, strained and cooled into a wobbly, gelatinous block of loveliness. It can then be used as an ingredient to intensify any slow cooked stew or casserole - if you're in need of inspiration, take a look at the St John website or, better still, buy Fergus's book Nose to Tail Eating.
My first challenge was to find some trotters, but luckily my local butcher Robert & Edwards was happy to oblige (much to the shock of my fellow customers). I also invested in some Bic razors as, according to Fergus (and I can confirm it is true), trotters can be a bit bristly between the toes!
This is my own take on the recipe, based on the ingredients that I had around but reasonably faithful to the original. If you want the real thing then do buy the book (I strongly recommend it), or if you're feeling lazy you can buy Trotter Gear from Selfridges and various other locations.
2 trotters, shaved of any hairy bits (hence the Bic razors!)
A few onions (I used three shallots and a red onion), halved, skins on
1 carrot, split in half
1 leek, split in half
1 stick of celery
1/2 a head of garlic, cut horizontally
1 bottle of white wine
A couple of bay leaves
A bouquet garni, or some sprigs of thyme and sage
1. Preheat the oven to 150c / 300F
2. Put the trotters into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil for five minutes or so, until lots of horrible scum comes to the surface. Scoop off the scum, lift the trotters out into a large roasting tin and discard the water.
3. Tuck the vegetables and herbs around the trotters, then pour over the wine. Add stock to cover everything, and grind over a liberal helping of black pepper. If you prefer, you can use less wine and more stock.
4. Put the tin into the oven and let it bubble away slowly for at least three hours, and up to five.
5. Drain off the cooking liquor through a sieve and set aside.
6. Remove the trotters to a bowl and shred off the meat, fat and skin using a couple of forks. Put the shredded meat into a container - perhaps a parfait jar, or I used a loaf tin lined with clingfilm. Top up with the cooking liquor. Compost the left over veges.
7. Let the Trotter Gear cool. It can then be stored in the fridge for a week or so, or you could do as I did and split it up into convenient sizes and pop into the freezer.
Mine was a bit more wobbly than Fergus's and not quite as photogenic!
I will be trying out some recipes using Trotter Gear as an ingredient very soon...in the meantime I am off on holiday for a week or so, learning to make chocolate wedding cakes. I'm sure the results will either be on here or on Cake Wrecks in the coming weeks!