Pata Estofado


Pork estofado is a classic Tagalog dish popular in the provinces south of Manila. The traditional way of cooking this is in a clay pot in which the pig’s trotters or knuckles in their marinade are covered with saba [plantain] and slices of bread, and the pot opening is sealed with a banana leaf and tied around the rim. The pot is left on a slow fire and the pork knuckles are simmered for several hours. The pot is usually opened the following day to let the flavors of the pork, vinegar, and caramel fully develop.

This recipe was shared with us by Loreto Del Mundo-Relova.


  • cups soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • pounds pig’s trotters, cut into 4-inch pieces
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups sugarcane vinegar or rice vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 4 shallots, quartered
  • 2 ripe plantains, sliced lengthwise to get 4 pieces


  1. Pour ½ cup of the soy sauce into a large nonreactive bowl and add the pepper. Add the trotters and turn to coat them in the soy sauce. Cover, refrigerate, and let marinate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight.
  2. Place the sugar in a deep, large pot. Drizzle 2 tablespoons water over the top. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, gently swirling the pan but not stirring, until the sugar has melted into a deep amber-colored syrup (watch carefully, as this speeds up toward the end and you don’t want to overdarken it—if you do, simply start again).
  3. While the sugar is caramelizing, pour the vinegar into a separate pot. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Slowly add the boiling vinegar to the caramelized sugar—the mixture will spit, so take care and stand away from the pot as you pour. Swirl, then stir, to combine. Set aside.
  4. Remove the trotters from the marinade, reserving the marinade. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm ¼ cup oil. Add the trotters to the pan, in batches, and sear until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the trotters to the sugar-vinegar mixture. Add the reserved marinade, the remaining 1 cup soy sauce, the garlic, and shallots. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Remove the trotters from the pot, raise the heat, and cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
  6. While the sauce is reducing, fry the plantains: Warm 2 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the plantains and cook until softened and lightly browned on both sides, about 5 minutes.
  7. When the sauce has thickened, return the trotters to the pot, add the plantains, and heat to warm through, about 5 minutes.