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Preparing Pig Tails: Tips & Techniques


GordonD
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I've been working my way through Fergus Henderson's "The Whole Beast" and one of several ingredients that has been eluding me is the central ingredient for his crispy pig's tails. I'd seen packages of them in Asian food marts, but these were all far from home in places I wasn't doing any cooking. Nobody had them at home.

Recently, I finally found a farmer at a local farmers market who offered them as part of a special order. They were cheap, so I ordered two packages.

Now, the packages I'd seen in the Asian grocery stores had a half-dozen or so tails in them, so that's what I was expecting. The packages I got each had one tail, still attached to a decent-sized hunk of the pig's hindquarters.

I figure I can get a few more of these to amass enough tails to make the recipe. It seems really wasteful to toss out the non-tail portion, but I don't have the first clue what to do with the bloody things. Make stock? Render for the fat?

Any suggestions?

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My Dad loves pork tails in our sinigang soup (Filipino savoury sour soup). He likes to nibble on the fat and little meat that is on the bone.

Doddie aka Domestic Goddess

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They look like they're all, or at least mostly, fat and skin. No meat was evident from what I could see through the packaging.

Maybe a slow rendering, starting with some water in the pan. If nothing else you will end up with lard for cooking and some sinful cracklings which make great "croutons" for a salad

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The ones I found had been cut out of the pig, rather than being cut off the pig, if you follow me. The tail had been followed into the pig for a distance of about 4 or 5 inches and cut off there.

The "inside the pig" bit of each tail had been cut free from the carcase by two incisisions alongside the tail, made from above the pig's back, and as a result there was a large wedge of fat and rind attached to each.

Having been cut free from the tails, the fat and rind were rendered. Mr Henderson's pigtail recipe was then [more or less] followed, with very satisfactory results. In truth, the "inside the pig" bits had more nibbling potential then the extremities, at least on the tails I found.

If it is of any help, I should have pictures somewhere showing the before and after.

Pigtail served to me at 'Au Pied du Cochon' had more meat, and had been roasted at a lower temperature than the book calls for, or so I think.

[edited for lousy sentence construction]

Edited by DerekW (log)
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Pig tails are amazing stewed with legumes!! It compares very well with pig trotters so almost any recipe using trotters could be adapted easily.

I haven't tried the crispy pig tail from Fergus Henderson's book but that sounds amazing too... well, anything from that book sounds delicious!

And by the way, there is often much more connective tissues (collagen) than fat in these... so do not worry too much...

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  • 1 year later...
I have a couple small pig tails and do not know what to do with them.  Any suggestions on how I should cook them?

Hi,

I don't have the recipe on-hand but there is a great pig tail preparation in Fergus Henderson's The Whole Beast: Nose-to-Tail Cooking. It involves brining them and then applying a light batter/seasoning coating and oven roasting them.

I had the pleasure of having this dish at St. John and it ranks among my favorite meals ever.

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I once made one of the best stew I have ever eaten with pig tails. (see: http://slurpandburp.blogspot.com/2006/02/j...-tail-stew.html). At that time, I was thinking about other tail recipes and thought about jamaican oxtail stew but feeling that jerk seasoning would work better with pork, I opted for a dish inspired from two different jamaican culinary traditions.

If you like beans, you could make an extraordinary bean dish by cooking your bean along with the tails. Make sure to brown the tails slightly to render the extra fat if you keep the skin (as you should do anyway :wink: ).

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Have a look at these: http://www.seriouseats.com/required_eating...-pig-tails.html

http://findyourcraving.com/pig/nose-to-tail-eating

http://www.astray.com/recipes/?show=Barbec...g's%20tails

http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/re...6_17966,00.html

http://uktv.co.uk/food/recipe/aid/536893

http://www.sauerkrautrecipes.com/recipe15679.shtml

There are much more recipes online... I think the only thing to remember is that pig tail cooks a lot like pig trotters. They give a very pleasant onctuosity to any dish but can be a bit heavy. I'd say almost any recipe asking for pig trotter could use pig tails.

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  • 6 months later...

I just had "Crispy Pig Tails" at St. John Bread & Wine in London. It was quite good - think braised pork belly schnitzel on a bone.

Question: there was quite a thick layer of fat around the meat, which surrounded the bone. Or, was it fat? I've read the recipe and it seems that if you braise the meat that long, it would render and the fat would float to the top for skimming. So, is that a thick rind of collagen surrounding the pig tail meat and bone?

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Years ago, there was a restaurant in Kitchener, Ont. called the Charcoal Steak House. They did barbecued pigs tails. My recollection was that they were rather like eating chicken necks ... tasty, but not meaty. They were the local curiosity, though, there had to be at least one order per table of visitors.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Pig tails are real easy to find here in Beaufort, SC. Nearly every supermarket has them all the time. It ain't yuppie food; it's mostly bought by poor African-Americans who grew up with pig tails, feet and ears--also snout, shank, jowl, etc. It's a whole way of life, and any southern soul or gullah cookbook will have something to do with pigs tails. Mostly people use them as flavorings and a bit of meat supplement for collards or other coarse greens. The old mamas will tell you "scrub n' stew." Scrub up the tail to be sure its clean and stew it. (If you said braise, they would look around for a mule.) Then you pull out the tails before you serve, pick off the meat (not all that damn much) and put it back in the dish. The kids will take the tails and suck and chew them but the menfolk expect the meat to be picked.

There's lots of picking with gullah and southern soul food. You pick the crabs, pick oysters, pick pork, pull pork, pick chicken, pick feathers and if you pick your cook right the food is really tasty.

This way will probably be gone in 10-20 years. There are less and less blacks as a percentage and the markets more and more reflect the white taste (not much into obscure pork parts.) Younger people, black or white, are in more of a hurry, and lack time and inclination for the hand work involved in the old recipes. There is much about the old ways that nobody--black or white--misses at all, but the end of this simple, frugal and tasty cuisine as a living language will be a sad thing.

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I don't really have anything substantive to add; I've never cooked pig tails. But the most memorable scene, for me, from the first Little House book, Little House in the Big Woods was the pig butchering scene. Laura and her sister get the tail skewered on a stick and roast it over the wood stove fire til it gets crispy and then pull of yummy bits while it's still hot, burning their fingers in the process. Then they go play ball with the bladder that their dad has blown up. Both sounded really fun to me when I was little.

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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MAde pigs tails more or less according to Keller's recipe.

Sous vide at 82F for 12 hours, thenpick the meat (mostly skin) off the bones. Let set in their juice, dice, egg and breadcrumb, fry in butter.

Good but a lot of hassle, and not unique. Starting with say trotter or belly gets to a similar result with a lot less fussy deboning.

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