Sunday, April 30, 2006

Puerto Rican Pig's Feet as Promised

Here's a recipe promised on April 14, when we were having technology problems. Even if you're averse to pig's feet, please read on. For one thing, the mix of ingredients simmers into a wonderful and classic Puerto Rican flavor profile. Second, if you insist on a meatier dish, ham hocks should substitute just fine.

After preparing this recipe on several occasions, all over 25 years ago, I declared it to be a personal specialty, very personal: Then, as now, very few dining partners ever wanted to share it with me. Just as well perhaps, because despite a lingering craving for this dish, maintaining a healthful diet has increasingly become a definitive part of my life. Although an occasional small amount of just about anything is OK, that which is high in animal fat and/or cholesteral is to be avoided most of the time. Just not all of the time.

This is not the first, nor is it likely to be the last time a recipe from Elizabeth Lambert Ortiz's The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking finds its way to this site. As recently as a month and a half ago, for St. Patrick's Day, we served up Ms. Ortiz's recipe for corned beef and cabbage as prepared in Martinique. It's another one of those cookbooks in my library that's seen enough use for the cover to have fallen off to leave over 400 pages, nearly all of them severely stained.


8 fresh pig's feet

2 cups Sofrito: I used a flexible and collapsible package from the dry goods shelf at a nearby Hispanic grocery

1/2 pound chorizo sausage, sliced

2 cups cooked cooked or canned garbanzo beans

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

1/2 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch slices

1/2 pound West Indian pumpkin (calabaza) peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

salt to taste

Put the pig's feet into a large kettle or casserole with enough cold water to cover by about 1-inch, bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat and simmer until they are almost tender, about 3 hours. Drain, reserve liquid, and return the pig's feet to the casserole. Add the Sofrito, chorizo, garbanzos, cilantro, potatoes, and calabaza. Add as much of the reserved liiquid as necessary to cook the potatoes and pumpkin, and simmer gently, covered, until the potatoes are done, about 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning, and add a little salt, if necessary. Serves 4

From The Complete Book of Caribbean Cooking, by Lydia Ortiz, New York, 1973