Alabama Hog Pot

Once was the time throughout much of the South when hog pots featuring at least four types of pork were just as popular at big church suppers, political rallies, and fund-raising cookouts as pit-cooked barbecue. Today, however, you don’t see many old-fashioned hog pots in our cholesterol-obsessed society, which I find sad, since people who’ve never eaten pig’s feet and ears slowly simmered with pork shoulder, lean salt pork, sausage, cabbage, and numerous other greens and seasonings don’t know what they’ve been missing. This particular hog pot, which I’ve adapted for my own home kitchen, was inspired by a spectacular one fired up at a huge church benefit that a friend invited me to attend in Greenville, Alabama. In the South, you’ll have no trouble finding packaged pig’s feet and perfectly cleaned pig’s ears in most supermarkets; elsewhere, any good butcher should be able to fill your order and prepare the cuts for cooking. This hearty dish requires nothing more than a tart green salad or vinegary coleslaw, some form of cornbread, and plenty of cold beer.

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Ingredients

  • 2 pig’s feet, cleaned
  • 2 pig’s ears, cleaned
  • ¼ pound lean salt pork
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 carrot, scraped and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 medium head green cabbage (discolored leaves discarded), cored, quartered, and coarsely chopped
  • ½ pound smoked pork sausage (such as kielbasa), sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine

Method

Place the pig’s feet in a large, heavy pot with enough water to cover, bring to a simmer, skimming off any scum from the surface, cover, and cook for 2 hours. Add the ears and salt pork to the pot, add more water to cover if necessary, return to a simmer, and cook till the feet and ears are tender, 1 to 1½ hours. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, remove any loose bones from the feet, cut the ears and salt pork into thin strips, and set aside.

Wash out and dry the pot. Add the oil over moderate heat, brown the pork cubes in the oil on all sides, and add to the pig’s feet and other meats. Add the onion, celery, and carrot to the pot, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, till the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Add the meats to the vegetables, scatter the cabbage over the top, arrange the sausage slices over the cabbage, and season with salt and pepper. Add the wine plus enough water to cover the ingredients, bring to a simmer, cover, and cook till the pork cubes are tender and the cabbage very soft, about 1 hour.