Tuesday, 1 March 2011

making a pig's ear of it, or not. A simple, tasty, cheap snack of porky goodness.

pigs ears 1

Yes, EARS. Big, flappy, hairy things. Much eaten in, say, Spain, but pretty much shunned over 'ere (geddit?).

So, first - a mini-rant. I despair of those who express revulsion at 'unusual' bits of animal, not least because it often transpires that they've never actually tried said part. They just don't like the idea, and never get beyond that. What a tremendously dull way to live your life.

People, the bits of animal most frequently discarded are often the most fantastically flavoursome. Good quality offal, for example, is an absolute joy to eat. Other points in favour of unpopular bits and pieces is that, in these frugal times, they are great wallet-savers. Many butchers can barely give the stuff away (as also observed by Fiona Beckett in her excellent Frugal Cook blog). The pig's ears I used for this recipe cost me a grand total of 50p. My butcher threw in a pig's liver for free, because 'nobody else will have it and I was going to chuck it away'. Fantastic. That's one delicious pot of Sorpotel coming right up, then.

Anyway, to ears. A little glimpse as to how to make a tasty snack from them.

First, take your ears. Or, more precisely, the pig's ears.

pigs ears 2

Singe or shave off any excess hairy bits. Chuck the ears in a pot. Cover with water. Bring it up to the boil. Reduce the heat until the water reaches a simmer, and then bubble away for as long as it takes for the meat to become tender - anywhere between 1hr 30mins and 3 hours. And no, I can't deny it - they won't look pretty in the meantime.

pigs ears 3

Nor, if you're of an overly-sensitive disposition, do they look especially wonderful straight out of the pan.

pigs ears 4

To someone like me, however, they look good and ready for the next stage. With a sharp knife, slice the ears into thin slivers, and blot them as dry as possible with kitchen towel.

pigs ears 5

Either dig out a deepfryer, or 2/3rds fill a pan with oil for frying. Once the oil is good and hot, dunk the ear slivers in, and give them a bit of a poke around to help prevent them from sticking to each other. AND - be careful. Hot oil + pig's ears = much spitting.

BUT - the end result is totally worth it. Remove the slivers with a slotted spoon once they've crisped up, and season them liberally with your very best salt and pepper.

pigs ears 6

A chilled dry sherry makes an excellent accompanying slurp.

Not convinced? Please, at least TRY. And if you don't want to cook them for yourself, book yourself into St. John, and let Fergus Henderson and his nose-to-tail-championing team work their magic for you instead.

16 comments:

meemalee said...

Gorgeous - I heartily approve.

I like paprika on my cripsy ears :)

bellini valli said...

I'd be willing to give it a go but must say I may have to preorder the ears from my local butcher.

The Grubworm said...

Mmm-mmm, crispy ears sound delicious... I love the crunchy text of ears no matter how they're done, and Chilli Cool near Kings Cross does a great version in garlic, sesame and a healthy dose of chilli heat.

Out of interest, did you de-wax the ears first? Or did it all come out with the liquid?

Laura Nickoll said...

Mmmm, lovely. Crispy ears are on a par with crispy crackling for me. I'm off to the butcher later today, so will seek some out.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

MiMi - paprika? Great choice. I like chaat masala ;)

Val - I'm sure your butcher will be only too happy to oblige. If not, I'll have a word ;)

Grubworm - I must get me to Chilli Cool. And no, I didn't wax the ears.

Laura - do, do!

meemalee said...

Man, I can't spell crispy. CRISPY.

:)

SipSwooshSpit said...

Very timely. I was wondering what to do with the pigs ears I bought recently.

things we make said...

Great post. So are they properly 'hard' crispy or kind of chewy crackling type crispy?

Manne said...

That looks so delicious! Must try that, thanks for the inspiration!

Tried tails and trotters our of the St John book the other week and while a bit of an ordeal to make all of that on the same day (and then roast a piece of pork in the trotter gear...) it was well worth it. :)

Tails and trotter gear photos

Milly said...

looks yummy

lovely blog - I'm following!

would love you to enter my amazing giveaway for a free meal at IDA restaurant:

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Sarah said...

Must say that I've never tried pigs ears, but the more and more I eat the "undesirable bits" of animals, the more I like them. I've got this saved to give a try soon!

Helena Lee said...

this is such a good post. I'm so glad you've shown us step by step. Used to love eating it cold at a Taiwanese restaurant in Chinatown, and glad that you've got such a simple recipe for them.

Jonathan said...

Wow. Love it.

Cakelaw said...

I have never seen anyhting like this before. My mother buys dried pigs ears from the supermarket for the dog, but I am not even sure I am have them for sale at the markets here.

Hanna @ Swedish Meatball said...

This sounds and looks pretty awesome to me! I've never cooked with pig's ears but will try this next time I'm at the butchers!

Going With My Gut said...

Awesome. Had lovely pig ear strips in Lithuania & China. Looking forward to some DIY rnditions at home!

Wen