Soda bread and trotters

If you've never had pigs trotters before, this exceptional recipe from Bryan Webb is a must try. The delectable richness of these pork and ham morsels, fried until crisp on the outside with a juicy interior, belie the fact they are the traditional fare of Irish farmers. Known as crubeens, this recipe lifts humble ingredients to culinary heights, but it takes some work: the trotters and ham need to cook for 3 1/2 hours in the first instance and, once shaped, must set overnight. Soda bread also derives from lean times when eggs and butter were expensive luxuries.

First published in 2015
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Ingredients

Metric

Imperial

Trotters

Soda bread (makes 2 loaves)

  • 225g of plain flour
  • 350g of wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 450ml of buttermilk

Crumb coating

To plate

Equipment

  • Deep fat fryer

Method

1
To cook the pigs trotters, preheat the oven to 160°C/gas mark 2 1/2. Make sure the trotters are well cleaned and any hairs are removed. Put them in a casserole with the ham hock. Roughly chop the carrot, celery, leek and onion and add them to the pan with the bouquet garni
2
Cover with cold water, bring to the boil and skim off the froth that forms on the surface. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven for about 3 1/2 hours; alternatively you can braise them over a very low heat on the stove
3
Leave the meat to cool in the pan. Once it is cool enough to handle, remove the ham hock from the liquid and shred it, discarding the bones and gristle but keeping the fat. Put the ham and its fat in a large bowl. Cut the trotters in half lengthways. Carefully remove the bones but reserve the skins, and mix the remaining meat and fat with the ham
4
Melt the butter in a small pan. Finely chop the extra onion and cook it gently until soft. Add this to the ham mixture along with the chopped parsley and mix well
5
Lay two very large sheets of cling film on top of each other on a clean work surface. Open out the reserved trotter skins and lay them flat side-by-side on the cling film in three slightly overlapping rows, so that you have one large rectangle of skin
6
Divide the ham mixture into three to make it easier to work with. Place it along the trotter skins and shape into one long sausage. Roll this up in the skins, using the cling film to help you keep it as tight as possible. Twist the ends, tie them with kitchen string to secure and chill overnight
7
To make the soda bread, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6. Combine all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir in the buttermilk until you have dough that is dry enough to knead. Knead for about 5 minutes, using a machine with a bread hook if you can
  • 450ml of buttermilk
  • 225g of plain flour
  • 350g of wholemeal flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
8
Halve the dough and shape it into two flat, round loaves. Place them on floured baking trays and score a cross in the top of each loaf. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas mark 4 and keep cooking for about 10 minutes or until the soda bread sounds hollow when you tap the underside
9
To make the crumb coating, mix the breadcrumbs and mustard powder together in a bowl. Put the flour in a separate bowl and beat the eggs together in a third
10
Remove the cling film from the trotters and cut into discs. Cut each disc into quarters. Dust the meat all over in the flour, dip into the eggs then toss in the breadcrumb mixture until completely coated
11
You can shallow or deep-fry the trotters as preferred. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Cook them in the hot oil until they are crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve with some tartare sauce, beetroot relish, salad and soda bread
First published in 2015
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Showcasing quality ingredients from his native Wales, Bryan Webb cooks French-inflected dishes that champion simplicity and gutsy flavour.

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