Menus entice with words to sell, to comfort or encourage guests to order certain menu items. We always want to be conscientious and honest in our descriptions of our food. When it is local and just picked and isn’t sprayed and ladened with pesticides, we’ll tell you. Sometimes we have such a bounty of great stuff on the menu we just assume, you’ll assume it is just that local and super fresh. When we say everything is made from scratch, in house daily, we mean it. Many restaurants terribly overuse these words and euphemisms in order to make themselves something they’ll never be. Millstone prides itself and its reputation on using real, fresh local ingredients and cooking them in an approachable and comforting way for our guests since 2001.
But, sometimes we just want to sell pig’s feet. Yep. Simply braised trotters are rustic country food in nearly every pork eating culture, including America. But they are a nearly impossible “sell” in the restaurant world. Sure, foodie crusaders eat them in the big cities to do their part of being green; eating all of the animal; wasting nothing. There is even a restaurant in Montreal named after the humble pig part. But a pair of pattes longues, that is, the front pair of trotters with the full shanks yield an array of flavors, textures and menu items. Slowly roasted with tomato paste and simmered in water with aromatic vegetables, they make a mouthwatering stock. Pick the meat from the trotter and make a terrine with game birds. Skin the shank or hock, and wrap the meat in caul fat and braised for an hour to make crepinette of patte longue, which is what we serve on our Oktoberfest pork plate. Oh, and we save the shank skin to season a number of dishes, including our collard greens.
We are completely honest in the fact that we love pig’s feet. The inherent utility of the pig as a food gives us so many different tastes and textures that many other animal foods cannot match. We call them many different names because the idea of eating the meat off of a foot is not very enticing. It is similar to using the word “emulsion” on a menu; not a food friendly word. But pied de cochon is a beautiful sounding food. Patte longue sound pretty too. Perhaps now, you can take comfort in knowing the backstory of the humble pig foot, embrace its value in the economical kitchen and give it try one evening. We did, and we love it.