Tuesday, 1 March 2011
making a pig's ear of it, or not. A simple, tasty, cheap snack of porky goodness.
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.
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.
Nor, if you're of an overly-sensitive disposition, do they look especially wonderful straight out of the pan.
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.
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.
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.