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Pig’s ear salad September 2, 2010

Posted by inspiredbywolfe in Pork.

Did you think I was joking in the last post about the pig’s ear salad?! Well, I wasn’t…

***I will supply a warning, however – the photos below may be considered a bit graphic and if the idea of eating ears doesn’t appeal to you, I suggest that you refresh your memory about Nero Wolfe or brush up on your orchid-tending skills instead. To help avoid accidental scroll-downs if you’re using a rss reader, here’s a photo of an orchid from the Florida State Library and Archives from Flickr Commons before the photos of ears begin.***

So, pig’s ears. I am lucky enough to work near a market where pig’s ears are easily purchaseable without needing to buy an entire pig’s head. I bought two ears and left them in the fridge for the rest of the day (much to the combined amusement and disgust of my colleagues). I decided to follow Fergus Henderson’s recipe for pig’s ear salad which involves frying the pig’s ears once they are cooked and serving them on top of an endive salad.

To begin with, I simmered the pig’s ears in water with some vegetables for a couple of hours. I left them in the water until they were quite soft.

I was surprised at how good it while the ears were cooking – for some reason I thought the ears wouldn’t have much flavour of their own, but their smell filled the house in the same way as slow-cooking hocks or pork belly does.

After they had cooked, I removed them from the liquid and patted them dry as much as I could. I sliced them into thin pieces – there was still some resistance but it was quite easy to slice through them. They were also a bit sticky and stuck to the knife a few times. Here they are all chopped up.

Meanwhile, I prepared the salad. I made a vinaigrette from lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. I chopped the garlic into rough pieces and left them to infuse the dressing – I took them out before serving it. The salad itself was primarily endive, with some spinach and parsley (the recipe called for sorrel leaves, but I was unable to find any and according to the Internet, spinach is a substitute…).

Now it was just a matter of frying the pig’s ears. I decided to fry them in a wok as I wasn’t sure if my saucepans were large enough, and I thought I would maybe use less oil this way. Heating the oil and putting the pieces of ear in was fine – but boy did they spit! The recipe warns that pig’s ears have a tendency to spit but this did not encompass the overwhelming nature of the spitting! As I do not own a splatter-guard (although this may be changing very soon!), I found the best strategy was to put them in, stand back until the spitting reduced somewhat, and then stir them around until they were done. Did I mention they spat? I ended up cleaning the kitchen twice to get rid of all the oil!

After they were cooked, I removed them to a paper towel to drain, and set about assembling the salad. I tossed together the endive, parsley and spinach and some capers, poured the dressing over the top, and mixed it well. I placed the strips of fried pig’s ear on top.

The pig’s ears were crispy and had a nice porky flavour, which was balanced well by the flavoursome endive and vinaigrette dressing. We ate this as a light lunch but it would certainly also do as a side dish to a main meal. In cooking this dish, the main issue I had was with the frying – handling and cooking ears didn’t bother me, but watching my kitchen getting covered with oil did! I would happily make this again, but will be investing in a splatter-guard before I attempt this again.


1. Michael - December 17, 2010

Excellent post, I’ve been wanting to try this since I read “Nose to Tail.” I saw some pig’s ears at the market just the other day, so this is going on my weekend to-make list. Great pics!

inspiredbywolfe - December 18, 2010

Thanks Michael! I hope you enjoy them. The only thing I would suggest is make sure you use a splatter guard, or you’ll be cleaning oil off your kitchen for a while afterwards!

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