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Pigs Feet - Hungarian "Cutchna"

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~From Marcia Tarasovic

This meal is called Cutchna. It is a pigs' feet soup that is eaten cold.

I use a 16 qt stock pot (does not have to be filled to the top).

  1. Find a good butcher that knows how to cut the pigs feet length-wise, trim the toe nails down to the 1st or 2nd joints (I prefer the 2nd joints, your choice)
  2. Once home, scrub the feet very clean with a good stiff brush, pluck the hairs or burn off tough hairs, and set aside.
  3. Using a stainless steel stock pot and based on the number of 1/2 feet you are going to cook, you will measure the water you will need. The way I grew up, we would use flat soup bowls, fill one of the bowls with good clean water and measure as many bowls you need per each 1/2 pigs foot. The flat soup bowls hold 8 oz; I use a cereal bowl that I fill to about 12-13 oz. It holds 20 oz. to the top of the bowl... too much.
  4. Figure out how many 1/2 pigs feet you want and measure the water into the stock pot.  Always add an extra bowl or two for the pot.

Add to the stock pot:

  • Garlic - 1 large bulb of cleaned garlic cloves and drop them in the water. [Note: once you break the cloves apart, put them in two small stainless steel pans / bowls (about 7" in diameter and 2 and 3/4" in height).  Put one pan over the other and shake away... all the dried parts falls off and you have all the pealed garlic you need. When I need a lot of garlic it is the easiest way to peal them.]
  • Salt - One Tablespoon of Himalayan or other GOOD Healthy Salt
  • Black Pepper Corns - I cup my left hand and pour a hand-full of pepper corns into the pot (about a tablespoon)
  • Do not over season in the beginning... test as you go...  "Too salty is just that, too salty." :)
  • One or Two 3.5 diameter onions - Take the outer brown dry skin off the onion, but be sure to keep the clean brown dry skin on the onion. The dried onion skin that is clean and attached to the onion goes in the pot. It adds a delightful color to the soup.

Keep the stock pot on a very low temperature while continuing...

Back to the Pigs feet:

  1. If you have a grill outside (even in the snow) you can grill - NOT TO BE COOKED THOROUGHLY - Cook on a high temperature, skin side down, until just golden; turn and cook until the underside is very partially cooked. Do not burn or charcoal. Do this for each 1/2 pigs foot. More can be done at once.
  2. Depending on weather, broil the pigs feet in the oven, just as you would outside.
  3. Once they are golden and NOT THOROUGHLY COOKED add them to the Stock Pot.
  4. Once all the ingredients are in the pot... depending on your stove top, leave the lid OFF the pot and let the temperature progress very slowly. Over a period of time, as the scum rises and is removed you will be able to cover the pot with the lid. The pot lid should fit very tightly so all the moisture falls back into the pot. You do NOT want a bubbling soup. The soup you want to achieve will be an almost clear soup.
  5. Make sure that there are little "blips" in the soup "Blip....Blip....Blip... (you get the idea)
  6. Now it is time to rest awhile. Keep the soup cooking for at least 12 hours (or that is what we do and it has worked since the early 1900's). COLD WEATHER IS A NECESSITY, unless you have a cooler. The pot is too hot to put in a refrigerator.
  7. Once the 12 hours are up, I take the pot out to a balcony and make sure it is very cold and there are no critters around.
  8. By morning, I bring the stock pot back into the kitchen.  The pot is very cold and/or a frozen, gelatinous mass.
  9. The pork fat has risen to the top and usually, you can lift it off in a sheet or quarter it for easier removal. Skim off all of the fat and put the pot back on the stove. As the gelatin melts, with a slotted spoon, move all of the contents onto a tray with a lip on it. You may need more than one tray. Have a good sized bowl nearby... that is where all the good stuff is going! :)
  10. Remove the onions after squeezing the juice out of them and discard.
  11. Remove the larger, then medium bones, strip them, suck on them if you wish and then throw them out.
  12. Put all the meat and skin into the bowl that you set aside.
  13. Discard the garlic cloves.
  14. You want to remove all the small and then tiny bones. You will discard them as you go... Using a flat stoneware dinner plate and a regular metal eating fork you want to make sure the very tiny bones are found and discarded. The easiest way to do this is using the back of the fork. Put some of the meat or other "stuff" on the plate and as you tap away your will hear the clicking on the bones. Once you find the bones, discard them and then put the edibles into the bowl.
  15. The Stock Pot has been cooling down. Using a very fine stainer and/or a strainer with a cheese cloth, begin pouring the soup into another pot... There is still more good stuff there, and more tapping continues once all the debris is thrown out. That is the final pot for the day. It will take a bit of time to get down to the bottom of the original Stock Pot, but it doesn't take long.
  16. Once the soup is completely "clean", hence the cheese cloth, be sure to "taste-test" for seasoning. 

Once all the bones and other non-edibles are removed we continue to move on.

NOW, chop all of the food stuffs that are in the bowl. (Usually, I use my grandmother's a bread bowl.) I put a 1/3 measure of meat, etc into each bowl. When it is all distributed, I pour the soup into each bowl. If you have a cooler, refrigerator or closed in cold porch, let the soup gel again.

Cutchna is an anytime food. The best time has always been breakfast with crusty rye bead, coffee or tea and be sure to dust (not dump) some awesome Hungarian Sweet Paprika. Sometimes others like ground pepper and salt added... it is your taste.

This has been very detailed... but once you go through the process once, it moves along quickly and I suspect you will want it again. Hope so...

Bon Appetite!

~Marcia Tarasovic, Family Cow drop point customer near Pittsburgh

 

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