When my friendly neighborhood grocery store offers a new vegetable, critter, or cut of meat, I'm impelled to pick it up. While smoked ham hocks (the ankles of pigs) are widely available here in the South, you don't see raw pig's feet that often. Pickled yes, smoked occasionally, but raw, no. I know they're a French delicacy and prized in many parts of the world, so for the sum of $1.94 I came home with a pair of trotters.
I found a recipe for the signature dish from Montréal's Au Pied de Cochon, a restaurant specializing in traditional Québécois fare. While the pig's feet I found didn't include as much of the shank as I'd like, I did have organic Canadian maple syrup in the cabinet.
One warning for the squeamish (assuming that any have made it this far): the feet arrive clean and shaved, but you still have to rinse them and check for any hairs missed by the razor. This process feels like shaking hands with a corpse that's been pulled out of a cold river. I've got no problem taking apart pigs (I helped dissect 30 in one day as a high school lab assistant), but this might be off-putting for some.
Four hours of brining and four hours of roasting produced the mahogany treasures you see to the right. The house smelled amazing: imagine a cross between bacon and ham wafting all afternoon. My dogs were going crazy at the aroma. And the flavor is great as well, with the crispy skin on the top, the sweet and tender skin on the bottom, meat that's as soft as butter, and plenty of cartilage if you're into that. It's mostly full of bones (phalanges and metacarpals/metatarsals depending on whether they come from the back or front), so your final payoff isn't great. But if you've never tried a properly braised hoof, I'd highly recommend it.