Nasty Bits: Pig Snout
Here are a few things I bet you didn't know about pig snouts.
One: they're bigger than you might think. A pig snout, from its nostril to the base near the head, weighs at least one pound.
Two: if you take a look at the picture, you can see that there's more meat on a snout than appears from the outside. Once you tunnel past the layer of skin and the generous half-inch or so of fat, there are pockets of luscious meat.
And three: the fattiest part of the snout, near where the two nostrils are located, tastes like a cross between fatty tongue and firm tendon.
A pig snout, a pound of dried split green peas, and a pot of water practically make themselves into soup on a cold winter's night. It's not an exact science, but the ratio of one to one works well when it come to pounds of pig snout per pounds of split peas (or lentils, chickpeas, and white beans, for that matter.)
You boil the snout with the dried peas or beans; the snout gives the soup both porky flavor and rich body. Split pea soup, which is so tasty when you cook it with a ham bone or hock, is just as delicious with other parts of the hog. Fergus Henderson uses pigs ears in his rendition, but ears are so high on my list of favorite parts that I rarely have any left over for soup.
Once you're done with simmering the snout for soup, remove the snout from the pot. Pan-frying slices of snout will easily render out the fat, after which you can add the slices back to your soup as a crispy garnish. It depends on what part of the snout you choose to pan-fry, but for much of the snout you'll get a little section of juicy meat and crispy skin. You can choose to cut slices from the part of the snout near the nostrils where there is only skin and gelatinously textured tissue. These are the chewy, crispy bits that taste like candy to some meat lovers. The slices of snout contrast nicely against the smooth, sweet flavors of a velvety split pea soup.
You can also consider deep-frying the slices of the snout once it has been simmered in soup or stock. Doing so will yield golden, crispy slices like chicharrónes, if a bit more gelatinous and fatty. Eat them as a snack or appetizer, though if you have any left after nibbling, they're awfully good in chicharrón-style burritos with beans and cheese.