I have been keen to post the photo above. It was taken, on 35mm, by my late father, in 1967 while we were at Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co. Kerry. The picture of a ’67 food truck gives a great insight into Irish life at the time. The typography tells me that Fish and Chips was the lead offer. Crubeens were a staple and Hamburgers were something pretty exotic. I had never cooked crubeens. Oh, they are pigs feet, for those of you not in the know. So, when Ety from Ethical Pork offered me a few, I knew I could redress the situation and have an excuse to show a wonderful bit of Irish social history from almost 50 years ago.
The first thing to do with the crubeens is to burn off the excess hair. Given what I was doing, I really don’t see the need to do this but, it was fun and the picture is pretty attractive, in a gruesome sort of way.
Place the trotters in a pot of water and bring them to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes. This will bring impurities and a foamy scum to the surface.
Pour off the water and scum. Clean the pot and add the trotters, water, three carrots, two onions, three stalks of celery, 12 or so peppercorns and a bouquet garni.
Simmer this for three hours. Remove the trotters. Let them cool for about an hour.
Side note on crubeens: Back in the day, they would have been served at this stage of the process. They would have been eaten greedily with a lot of slavering and slopping.
Now roll up your sleeves and take the crubeens apart. Remove all the meat and put it in a bowl.
Separate the fat from what remains and discard.
Put all the bones (there will be lots of them), skin and gelatinous materials back into the pot with the cooking stock. Bring this to a gentle simmer, with the lid on, for a couple of hours. Then remove the lid and take out all the vegetables and pork bits.
Simmer again, to reduce the remaining stock by about three-quarters. Let it cool somewhat. It will start to turn to a very thick, extremely flavoursome stock. Before it sets, pour it through a muslin (Muslin, not Muslim – It’s pork remember).
Pour the stock into ice-cube trays.
I got an even 42. Into the freezer with them!
The stock cubes are a long way from 1967 crubeens. But, they are all about big pork flavour. That much they have in common.
Oh, one last thing. While I was at work the next day, the Wife made a sandwich with the meat. I never got to taste it. It’s 48 years since we were in Puck Fair that day. To date, I haven’t tasted crubeens. A treat in store….