Recipe for Trottery Goodness

by Catriona Walsh
These lovely little pigs can be found on Pheasants' Hill Farm where they have a splendid view of the Mourne Mountains and a quite wonderful outdoors life. None of them built their houses out of straw. Every Saturday Pheasants' Hill Farm sell their ethically raised rare breeds meat at St George's Market, Belfast. There is also a little farm shop on site near Killyleagh. They even deliver throughout the British Isles using Parcelforce.


A good stock is a great foundational recipe to have. Stocks, soups and broths have an extremely long history of use, certainly predating bread and beer by many thousands of years. Boiling meat and bones probably even predates the use of pottery, since our early hunter gatherer ancestors may have been able to use animal hides, gut, bladder or bark to make waterproof containers that would endure boiling. The name "bone broth" is now being used to describe any savoury liquid dish where bones, meat, fish and/or vegetables have been simmered in water. Many cooks in Europe will be more familiar with the term "stock", while the word "broth" will be more associated with a light soup using stock as an ingredient, but which may also include meat, vegetables and barley or other grains. Broth might have connotations of a comforting meal, often served when a person is ill in order to fortify them. The last few decades have made the terminology a little confusing, since when people talk about "bone broths" they tend to be referring to a good stock, rather than a light, watery soup.

It's very simple to find recipes for bone broths and stocks online and in good cookery books, but I've found that my favourite is one made with trotters. A large part of the appeal, and the apparent healing properties, of a good bone broth or stock derive from stocks that are a rich source of some amino acids like glycine, proline and hydroxyproline, found in high concentrations in collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, and the main protein found in connective tissue. Connective tissue also contains some mucopolysaccharides (very long carbohydrates somewhat similar to plant fibres), and elements like silicon and boron, which are also believed to be important for maintaining good health. Although all organs contain connective tissues, the bones, joints, tendons, ligaments and skin are particularly rich.

Gelatine is the rich, translucent gel that you strive to make when you are making bone broths. It is formed when you heat collagen and, although it forms a liquid when heated, it becomes more gel-like when cooled in a refrigerator. A really great gelatine can be sliced. Processed gelatine was the basis for jelly (jello), which is still popular with children today when sweetened and coloured and served with ice cream. Jelly is also a popular hospital dessert, and perhaps this is less of a surprise, now that you know that jelly was originally derived from unflavoured very good quality bone broth. It probably didn't do any harm that it didn't have a particularly strong odour for people complaining of nausea, and was very soft and easy to digest for people with oral or gastrointestinal pain or upset, and didn't take much effort to eat for people who were very fatigued due to illness. Modern jelly is not quite the same nutrient dense food that it once was with sugar, non-nutritive (artificial) sweeteners, colourings and flavouring agents added, and it may not even contain any actual gelatine.

Using pigs' trotters creates incredibly rich bone broth from all the skin, tendons and ligaments, but as an added bonus you also get some meat, not just a really high quality bone broth. A little bit of minced cooked trotter meat adds loads of flavour to any meaty dish when added to minced pork, lamb or beef. Dishes like Shepherd's Pie and Moussaka taste even better with a bit of minced trotter. The only major drawback when it comes to cooking trotters is that when you have cooked them all up you have to retrieve all the tiny little bones and discard them. This bit is dull and time consuming, but it's also almost impossible to get every last tiny little bone out. This is really the reason that I usually then pass the trotter meat through a grinder, since none of the really small bones that I miss do not pass through the mincing screen. You probably need to assess whether or not you need to catch all the tiny bones, but if you have anyone you want to serve the trotters to who might be a choking hazard, like a small child, or someone who does not swallow well, I really think mincing the trotters is safer. But I have also just torn the cooked flesh apart with my fingers into little nuggets as well.

If you can get some chicken necks and feet you can throw some of those in too, but they are not essential.

I like using my instant pot to make bone broths, including this Trottery Goodness, but you can also make it on the stove top or in a slow cooker (crock pot).

There are definitely obvious ethical and environmental reasons to prefer pastured meats to factory farmed (concentrated animal feeding operations) animals, but what about from a health perspective? Animals make vitamin D the same way that we do: by spending time outdoors in the sun. Outdoor animals have better vitamin D stores in their fat, especially in late spring, summer and autumn. Animals which feed on weeds, grass, grubs, and (in the case of chicken and pigs) other small animals, have a slightly different nutrient content because of this. The difference is really in the omega fats, with pastured animals eating a variety of foods having higher omega 3 fats due to their diet being higher in omega 3s. They are what they eat. They may also have slightly higher vitamin E. Toxin levels depend on exposures in their diet and environment (they are a lot like people in this way as well). Grain based feeds are likely to be GMO, which tends to mean increased glyphosate exposure. Glyphosate is derived from the amino acid glycine, and so it tends to mimic glycine, and bioaccumulates in collagen. Glyphosate is not identical to glycine, and so cannot mimic the functions of glycine completely. There are emerging concerns that glyphosate acts as a mild antagonist of glycine in the body. However, the exposures from glyphosate present in bone broth made from even CAFO animals tends to be far lower than the exposure you get from eating the grains directly. CAFO animals are commonly fed antibiotics in their feed as well, which contributes to the spread of antibiotic resistance. If a facility has old lead water pipes, or leaded paint exposed when contemporary paint chips or is gnawed off by the animals, or is in an industrialised area where there is lead present in the dirt, then lead can also be present.

So if you have the options and can afford it, as a general guide good quality organic pastured meat is best, factory farmed is worst quality, and everything else is largely somewhere in between.

A quick note about salt and stock. Don't be tempted to add salt to your stock, and not because of some misplaced fear of sodium. Your stock/bone broth will usually be used as a base to make other dishes, like braised vegetables, sauces, soups and casseroles. A a result you will likely use it as the liquid medium to gently cook something else. In practice this means that you will likely be cooking something for quite a long time on the stovetop or in the oven, and that a proportion of the liquid will evaporate, concentrating the remaining ingredients, and creating a richer dish with more depth of flavour. It will also concentrate the salt so, while you may have started out with a perfectly seasoned stock with just the right amount of saltiness before you started using the stock as an ingredient, what you can end up being left with is something slightly more salty than the dead sea. I have added just a hint of salty fish sauce in this recipe, but it is not enough to really impart much saltiness because it is so dilute by the time you add the water and cider. So just leave this as the only added salt, and when you are using this or any other stock as an ingredient, add the amount of salt that is called for by the recipe and/or salt according to taste preferences.


Trottery Goodness


2 trotters
A handful of chicken necks and feet (optional)


2 onions, quartered (if organic you can leave the skins on and just remove the roots)
1 head of garlic, peeled
1 leek, washed and cut into 3 pieces
1-2 carrots, washed and cut into a few big chunks
1 celery rib, washed and cut into a few big chunks
1" ginger, thickly sliced
1 bay leaf
5 cloves
1/4 tsp whole peppercorns
A few sprigs of thyme and parsley
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 piece seaweed (kelp or dulse or nori/laver)
1 bottle (about 500ml) apple or pear cider

First clean the trotters. Place the trotters in a large stockpot, cover with water, bring to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. A lot of scum will form. Discard the scummy water, rinse the trotters. You are now ready to make the stock. Put trotters and the remaining ingredients into the Instant Pot, or the slow cooker, or back into the stock pot. Fill up with water to the maximum mark, making sure that all the ingredients are covered.

  • If you are using an Instant Pot or other pressure cooker, cook on high for 90 minutes and allow the pressure to release.
  • If you are using a slow cooker, cook on low for about 14 hours.
  • If you are using a stock pot on the hob, cook for at least 3 hours, and do not allow the trotters to dry out, checking on them occasionally and topping up with water as necessary.

Allow to cool somewhat (never put really hot liquid into really cold glass or pottery, unless you enjoy cleaning up broken glass/ceramics and spilled stock). It can still be warm to the touch, but not boiling. Discard the aromatics and chicken necks. Lift the trotters into a large bowl or container and pick out all the tiny bones and discard all of them. You can use a skewer or knitting needle to make sure you get the marrow out of the longer bones. You can either shred the trotter meat with the 2 forks or your fingers, or you can feed it through a meat grinder (which is the option I recommend). Store in a box in the fridge or use immediately in a recipe. You will probably get about 1 lb of trotter meat from 2 trotters.

Strain the stock through a sieve into a large glass jar like a kilner, and store in the fridge until ready to use. You might get around 3 L of stock.

To find out more about me visit my website,


Popular posts from this blog

Literally nobody told me the MRI gadolinium-based contrast I was about to have could screw up my health for years... or even permanently!

Could eating meat be more cruelty-free, sustainable and environmentally friendly than eating crops? 6+ ways that conventional crop agriculture is far worse than pasturing animals

No wonder we are all exhausted: our dietary guidelines are causing malnutrition