Cow heels are classified as “offal” meaning the waste/undesirable or shunned parts. In my home language, these are called “tlhakwana ya kgomo” meaning the heels of a cow because you get pig heels too. I personally prefer cow heels.
Cow heels are a true favorite in my home and they are a traditional South African dish commonly served with pap (or samp.
Cow heels are very gelatinous and best cooked until very soft – over cooked really and with the broth that develops from the water and flavours of the heels at a jelly consistency.
Not only do they taste good when cooked right, it is believed in many parts of the world that have nutritional benefits to the body which includ being high in collagen and mineral contents which dissolve into the liquid when the heels are stewed. This makes absorption into the body easier as it is in liquid form. Cow heels are nutritious!
The broth from cow heels is often used to treat body ailments such as pain, irritability and cramps. These are century old practices which continue to this day. So cow heels are not just about flavour.
When cold, the product is a jelly with the bones and tissue around the bones all wrapped up in the jelly.
I prefer slow cooking them instead of rapidly boiling away and rushing them. The slow cooking gradually and effectively bring out the flavours of the heels.
I simply add water in parts. I wait for absorption before adding more water. There is the right amount of water too because you don’t want to suck all the flavour out of the heels and end up with “water with a hint of cow heels”.
I will share the recipe soon. I need to measure just how much water I used before I give you figures that will have you eating unseasoned water and flavourless cow heels.
All I added in this dish was finely chopped onion, beef stock cubes and some dried chilli flakes.
Cow heels do not need a lot of seasoning due to the flavour packed in the heels themselves.
I’m serving them with Samp and beans tonight.