Serious Eats: Recipes

The Nasty Bits: Deep-Fried Pig's Ears

"Stewing the pig's ears affords a precious by-product: a pot of flavorful stock."

[Photographs: Chichi Wang]

The Fergus Henderson meal I shared with the serious eats gang on Friday night had me hankering for more. That evening I left the restaurant carrying a giant foil package with the half pig's head we ordered, skull and all. Still, there was one part I wished we'd had in a pair: the ears. Roasted with the rest of the head, the tip of the ear was as tough as a dog treat, a far cry from my favorite preparation for pig's ears: deep-fried to crispy and golden-brown perfection.

Prior to frying, the ears must be stewed with aromatics. Like all the best parts of the pig—the trotters, the tails, and so forth—stewing the pig's ears affords a precious by-product in the process. A pot of gelatinous stock, comes free with your well-stewed pig's ears, and you can make the stock however you want. Use a mirepoix for a French-style stock. For an Asian-style stock, add some soy sauce and rice wine, and toss in a couple of star anise and cinnamon sticks.

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Pig's ears should be a staple bar food. When fried, the skin of the ears is crispy, the interior is fatty, and the cartilage adds some crunch to the mix. This is one pig's part that has it all.

I think of pig's ears as more animalistic version of pancetta. Slivers of fried pig ears are a great garnish for a bowl of pasta; served with a poached egg, ears are another porky topping for frisée aux lardon–style salad. Like pancetta, the fried ears will soften only slightly after being dressed in pasta sauce or salad dressing, all the while absorbing the flavors around it.

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A word to the wise: just remember to coat your pig's ears in flour prior to frying to cut down on splattering oil.

Crisp Fried Pig's Ears

About the author: Chichi Wang took her degree in philosophy, but decided that writing about food would be much more fun than writing about Plato. She firmly believes in all things offal, the importance of reading great books, and the necessity of three-hour meals. If she were ever to get a tattoo, it would say "Fat is flavor."

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