The Fried Irish Snack That Will Leave You Craving Pigs Feet

Your knowledge of Irish cuisine may start and end with Irish soda bread, corned beef, or a delicious Guinness beer. However, the country's diverse and flavorful food is full of surprising dishes that are worth trying out. For example, boxty is a staple potato pancake dish that has been a favorite of the Irish for centuries. The pancake is made from both cooked mashed and raw grated potatoes. Champ is another potato dish made with creamy mashed potatoes, green onions, and rich Irish butter. It's the comfort food we all crave on a cold day that proves that simple is not always bland.

Another, more unique dish from Ireland that you probably have never come across are crubeens, meaning pig's feet (per European Cruises). For foreigners, this may sound like a dish better left to the dark ages, but this salty and crispy delicacy should be appreciated for its satisfying qualities

History of crubeens

Crubeens comes from the Irish word cruibíni, which means trotters or pig's feet, and the word is pronounced the same in both English and Gaeilge, according to European Cruises. While this dish is and was hugely popular, the exact origins of crubeens are unknown, according to Taste Atlas. Regardless, their presence has been documented across the country.  

The common snack was sold in Ireland through the entirety of the nineteenth century and part of the early twentieth century, as per European Cruises. It was often served as street food or snack food in local pubs, as the deep-fried and salty nature of the dish made it perfect for enjoying alongside a cold beer. Specifically, Guinness was the historically preferred pairing.

In the later part of the twentieth century, the popularity of the crubeens declined. However, in more recent years the dish has experienced a return to Irish mouths.

How crubeens are prepared

Crubeens may seem like a very simple dish to fry up and serve, and they actually are. But there are many ingredients that are used to flavor the meat that make a big difference when chowing down on some pig's feet.

The feet are usually boiled before either being fried (per The Taste) or roasted (via Serious Eats). In the pot of water, many veggies are thrown in so they can boil alongside the crubeens and flavor each other, explains The Taste. The typical ingredients that are added to cook with the crubeens include carrots, celery sticks, raw onions, a sprig of thyme, and bay leaves, among others. Keep in mind, garlic, salt, and pepper can also be added for flavor.

When it comes to the frying process, panko breadcrumbs, flour, and eggs are needed to coat the crubeens. However, if roasted, they should be wrapped in caul fat or bacon to create a fatty, juicy, and tender meat experience, according to Serious Eats. A more elevated version of the dish can also come boneless and stuffed with mashed potatoes, as part of a Sunday supper.

How to eat crubeens

Take it from us, there is no wrong way to chow down on a crunchy crubeen. They are typically served fried, which is easy to eat by hand, as Serious Eats notes. This version can come garnished with parsley on a simple platter and served alongside soda bread and a hefty stout, according to European Cuisines. 

Now, if the crubeens are making a more classy appearance as part of the Sunday supper variety, eating the dish with a fork and knife may be a better option, as the boneless crubeen will fall apart in one's hands. Keep in mind, the fork and knife version of crubeens can be served alongside a green salad and a hefty stout, or it can also be featured alongside a crisp cabbage, as per Serious Eats. However, the crubeen's versatile nature lends it to be enjoyed with almost any side one's heart desires.