We ate one of my wife's favourite dishes for a Valentine's Day lunch today - pressure-cooked pigs' trotters, de-boned, mixed with sautéed chopped onions & garlic, parsley and oregano. I reduced it with some of the cooking liquid, then added chopped dill-gherkins and capers, and finished it in the oven with a (gluten-free) breadcrumb topping. Veg was sautéed courgettes (bought by London-based daughter at the weekend, then abandoned). And a starter salad topped by one of our bantams' eggs, soft-boiled.
Although it doesn't sound romantic, we both love trotters, particularly the aspect that most find off-putting - the texture. The gooey, sticky meat, and gelatinous sauce clinging to the plate. It's brightened by the gherkins and capers, and given a bit of a crunch by the crisp breadcrumb topping.
We went easy on the wine, halfway through a working Monday. My wife had a glass of complex, mature 2004 Heggie's Chardonnay. I went for a wonderful, grass and damson-flavoured 2008 Adobe Carmenère Reserva, which coped really well with the sharp but gooey trotters.
Although the preparation (particularly the deboning) takes ages, almost all the work had been done, as we had had our first go at the trotters before the weekend. I remember when Kathryn first came back from a local butcher, triumphant with trotters. He'd asked for £50 a trotter, then smiled and charged her 50p for the lot. It's one of the bits of pig most eaters avoid, sometimes off-puttingly hairy, certainly fiddly to process, and needing longer cooking than most cooks will hang around for. But the first hour in the pressure-cooker (plus onion, carrot and herbs various) gives cooked trotters and a brilliant resulting stock, and you continue to get thinner versions for the next two boilings of the bones.
Tonight I sit writing this at home. Kathryn has disappeared to our friendly local restaurant as an emergency sommelier. It's a strange evening for them, a load of tables for two, brilliant sales of champagne by the glass, and an unusually quiet atmosphere. I'll get on with some work here, and I think I might have another glass of that excellent Carmenère.