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Pig Ears


Richard Kilgore
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My local grocery store has had a good supply of pig ears for a couple of weeks. I have never cooked them, but would like to know how different cuisines in different countries treat them. I do recall a mention by by Richard Olney in Simple French Food of him enjoying a platter of crispy pigs ears in a small country cafe.

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I don't cook them at all... but I once went to a Thai & Laotian Songkran (New Year's) celebration in the park here, and one of the homemade goodies for sale was pig ears, sliced thinly and crisply fried. They tasted a lot like potato chips.

Edited by SuzySushi (log)

SuzySushi

"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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Never cooked 'em myself. But when we spent some months travelling through Spain on a research trip, we used to often encounter pig's ears as tapas in bars throughout the country. Actually they must have been piglet's ears, come to think of it, as they were usually pretty small, either fried and crispy, or boiled or braised. Very chewy and quite delicious, actually, if you like that gelatinous texture sort of thing. Good washed down with a chipped tumbler (or two or three) of deeply coloured vino tinto (but what isn't?). My son was two years old at the time, and a boy of the world, curious to try anything. I used to tell him they were boys ears and he delighted in this.

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I had them -- along with the jowell -- at a fine restaurant in Paris. It appeared that they had been braised and the roasted, they were quite crispy and tender. I ate the flesh off the cartilage, as I dislike the cartilage's texture, and it was delicious.

Fergus Henderson calls for boiling them and, a la SuzySushi's snack, deep frying before topping with greens, capers and a vinaigrette. He also adds them to a pea soup.

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Thinking about the government.

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Thirty years ago, when I was a construction worker in Kansas City, there was and old, Greek named Johnny Agnos who had a lunch stand around 11th or 12th street East towards the Paseo. He sold pork tenderloins, pigs ears and pig snouts, all in sandwich form, and fries.

The pigs ears were boiled, battered and deep fried. I remember them as tasty (but chewy).

"the only thing we knew for sure about henry porter was that his name wasn't henry porter" : bob

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Cook sisig! That's ceviche-style pork ears and cheeks.

Boil meat in just enough water to submerge it - with a little salt, pepper corns, oregano and bay leaf - till half-cooked. Broil meat (others would deep-fry instead) then slice thinly (approx 2x1cm). Dress with calamansi or lemon juice, chopped onions, chilies, black pepper and a bit more salt if desired.

Some would serve this on a hot plate and call it sizzling sisig. Optional dressing can be mayonnaise (not me) and a raw egg mixed while the meat is still piping hot.

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I don't care to deal with them at home because it takes a while to cook. But my mom likes to make them. She boils them in a soy sauce/spice mixture until tender (several hours), slice them into thin strips and serve with vinegar and hot oil.

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We used to include them as part of an assiette de porc, braising them slowly for a couple of hours then pressing them overnight, to be cut into 2" diamonds, breaded and deep-fried. Very tasty.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

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I'm not sure I've ever seen them for sale here (Toronto). Whole or half a pig's head, sure. Nevertheless, I have a Burmese cookbook that has a recipe that calls for 5 pig's ears. I always thought that odd, since the average pig has an even numbered set of ears.

So, can't say I've knowingly eaten pig's ears, but, sounds like they could be quite tasty a number of ways.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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in Quebec, they're served sliced into strips and deepfried as part of the 'cabane a sucre' (sugar shack) dinners every spring at maple syrup season.

they're called 'oreilles de crisse' (christ's ears), both because of their shape, and due to the (very Catholic) province's love of gentle subversion.

another example of that gentle subversion, but not pigs' ears: there are little pastries called 'pettes de nonne' (nun's farts)... :blink::biggrin:

"The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the ocean."

--Isak Dinesen

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  • 6 years later...

I went on the web and couldn't find any info on Sous Vide Pig Ears, I'm thinking an Asian prep, but wouldn't rule out a Mexican .

I'm thinking 12 hrs @ 176? I guess I have never had them, so any thoughts would be great. I just found this new Asian Market in Omaha and I'm going to try different things in the next months.

I have had Pig Skin before that we boiled in salt water, and just ate with a touch of lime. Now ears have a lot of skin on the out side, its the cartilage. that throws me. Can you get flavor into it, or is it just textural?

paul

Its good to have Morels

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I don't know how much flavor you'd be able to infuse, but I do know people who brine them prior to frying. The places I know of here in KC that serve pig ear sandwiches pretty much just boil them like you do the skin. For me it is definitely all about the texture. Crispy pig ear salads seem to be very popular right now, but for me they are usually TOO crisp and end up having more of an overcooked pork rind flavor. The absolue best preparation I've had was at Eola in DC- brined then (I think) par-boiled, sliced, and tempura battered and fried. Served kind of like fries, and they had the best gummy, lip smackety texture along with the crispness. I'd be very curious to hear how your sous vide experimenation goes...I would give that a whirl if I had a better point of reference to dial it in (I'm thinking chilling, slicing and frying after they come of of the bath). Tons of possibilities there, and the ears are super cheap at our Asian markets.

If you're in Omaha I probably don't have to ramble about The Boiler Room to you, but we ate there for the first time a couple of months ago and loved it. From the personalities of the folks I met and their diverse menu, if I were you I'd even get Chef Kulik on the horn and get some ideas from him. They'll post their nightly specials on Facebook and many times I'm tempted to make that 2 1/2 hour drive on a random Wednesday...

Edited to Add: The brining at Eola may have been tongue, not pig ear....can't remember the exact preparation, but the result was insanely delicious.

Edited by Zeemanb (log)

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

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Thanks Jerry.

Good idea! Boiler room is one of our favorite, we try to get down their when a friend of mine comes to town--MS Jess Becker.

Paul

I'm going Sous vide-- I really like the fry idea after and I just ordered a Presto Multi-Cooker Too yesterday . :smile:

I just couldn't resist

Its good to have Morels

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I do recall a mention by by Richard Olney in Simple French Food of him enjoying a platter of crispy pigs ears in a small country cafe.

He has a recipe for them in Simple French Food. I've never tried it, but everything else I've tried from that book has been surpassingly good, so I'd trust him.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Paul,

Can you give a report on how successful you were with the sous vide pigs ears?

What time and temperature did you use? Were you happy with the results?

I ask because I have to prepare about 100 ears next week. I would like to sous vide in advance and then fry on location.

Bill

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I actually think they didn't turn out well with my time and temp , Mine was a ancho/ gauva preparation and I didn't have an idea for time and temp.

So, I did 12 hr @ 176, I let them set over night and sliced to prep,. I floured and fried the first batch, it was shallow pan fry ( you'll be better off with a deep fry ) . It turned them to like a gummy bear consistency , no texture, to the outer skin and obviously I got no breakdown of the cartilage. So it was a goo bomb, the type that sticks to you teeth . The second batch I just fried, but they stuck to the pan , with poor results.

A few things:

With The sugar I had in the marinade , I should have deep fried them. BTW.. These things pop and sizzle, so be careful. The sugar burned, not allowing them to get crispy. Maybe a cornmeal coating could have helped too.

I didn't like my recipe, but it was decent for a belly I did this summer, so I could have been off on my measurements, but that's not important here.

I'm wondering if 4 hrs @ 176 wouldn't work, better to keep a bit of outer texture. Maybe you could package a few ears and take them out in 2 hr intervals , for a test, if you have the time this week, before the weekend ?

I think they need deep frying too, I was just doing some testing and didnt want to do my fry set up.

Let me know , what your thoughts and questions are?

Paul

Edited by Paul Bacino (log)

Its good to have Morels

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I've never cooked them but have a lot of ear recipes in books. Too, I've had them at restaurants a few times. Braised, breaded and deep-fried seems the standard method of preparing them. Once you've done that you have a snack or part of a salad or larger dish, possibly something involving a cut of pork with a different flavour or texture. I have also had them braised in a Sichuanese restaurant and served in a pool of chilli grease.

Chris Taylor

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I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

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I once bought an entire Pigs head (no brain though :S) for a measly $2!! Couldn't believe the bargin. Aside from the cheeks, the ears are awesome. The best thing I've made with ears was a slow long braise, semi-chinese style with cinnamon, star anise, dark and light soy, bay, kaffir lime (i like the citrus notes), oyster sauce and water until super tender. At this point i either deploy as needed in whatever be it rice or a snack, but even better, is a quick dip in flour, then egg whites, then deep fried. Since its been braising for ages, the ear is crispy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside and the braising liquid just permeates through out.

I would say that if you cook ears this way, its quite hard to resist.

Just dont tell them what it is, say its fried pork or something and smile.

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Maybe I should have deep fat fry'd mine. I went with a Mexican motif I was working on, that Asian idea sounds good.

I froze what I had left and will try this week- end. Thanks

Ps.. if its gooey your looking for!! These will fit.

Paul

Its good to have Morels

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Paul and others,

Thank you for the input. So far I have tried both pressure cooking and SV cooking on the ears. Pressure cooking for 1.5 hours produced a wonderful result. The ears were tender and felt like picking up a jellyfish. I cut one up into squares and ate it as such. It was quite good. I then covered some pieces in a little flour and deep fried. When tasted hot it did stick more to the teeth. The stickiness was actually a good thing. Neither sample produced a real crispy exterior.

I put a heavy coating of flour on the remaining ears and stacked them between plastic wrap for storage in the refrigerator. I revisited the chilled ears after 2 days. The flour had now formed a dense coating and the ears had firmed up again. No longer being soft and floppy, they cut nicely into thin strips. The strip were fried up and provided yet a third texture and flavor sensation. This sample was nice and crisp and was less sticky to the teeth.

The SV ears were cooked for 36 hours at 185F. I did not try them fresh from the water bath. After three days in the refrigerator, I fried some pieces with and without flour. Those without flour fried nicely (lots of spitting as usual) and had a good mouth feel. However, the cartilage was not broken down as much as with the pressure cooker. The flavor was good but I would have preferred a softer core. The floured pieces were fried as well and produced quite a mess in the oil. I did not use a binding agent to assure the flour would adhear. That was a mistake in that the flour came off and foiled the oil.

I like the convenience of the SV method but preferred the results of PC method. Perhaps I will try SV cooking for a longer time period.

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Bill,

This was the first time, I even tasted ear. So listening to everyone discuss, expectations is interesting.

"The flavor was good but I would have preferred a softer core. " this is what i would have like too. It was way to crunchy for me.

So maybe longer SV..

Cheers.

I might give the PC thing a try. Thanks

Its good to have Morels

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After watching them serve fried pig ear sandwiches at the Big Apple Inn on the Food Network or Travel Channel, I thought I would give it a try. I braised them for several hours. At that point the crunch was a little disturbing. I tried frying them and was not at all impressed. I took the remaining ones and sliced them into strips of finger food size and pickled them in a garlic and distilled vinegar brine for several days with a few hot peppers. The results were unusually good. I was also amazed at how jelly like the braising liquid was when chilled. The next time I do pickled pigs ears (and I definitely will) I will also do a batch of chicken liver pate and top with some of the braising liquid perhaps with a bit of decorative color.

HC

Edited by HungryChris (log)
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This weekend I'm taking the first in a series of pig butchery classes...first one on Sunday is dedicated to the head. I'm hoping that in addition to headcheese and guanciale we get into processing the ears. If so I'll be sure to post some notes, and I will definitely be taking some of the above info with me to class....especially the pickling, that sounds pretty delicious.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

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