I like parts. Especially pig parts. So when Jennifer of Flying Pigs Farm offered me some pig tails, I didn't hesitate. For cooking advice, I looked to Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating: he gives them a slow braise, breads them and browns them in butter. (For those who don't have the book, an adaptation of the recipe is available on Gourmet's web site—although if you have access to pig tails, and a desire to eat them, you're the kind of Serious Eater who needs this book.)
These are not cute little cartoon-curly tails; good, because Fergus is quite specific about asking one's butcher for long tails.
Plop the tails on a bed of coarsely chopped carrot, celery and onion with herbs (bay, parsley, thyme), a head of garlic (I used green garlic), peppercorns and lemon zest. Add red wine and chicken stock.
Cover the pan with foil and braise in a medium (325ºF) oven for about three hours, until the flesh gives easily when pinched.
Let the tails cool in the braising liquid, removing them before it sets to jelly. Refrigerate the tails until firm.
Preheat a baking pan in a 450ºF oven. Dredge the tails in seasoned flour, dip in eggs beaten with mustard, and coat with fine dry bread crumbs.
Add butter to the hot pan. When the foam subsides, pop in the tails, turning to coat them well with butter. Roast, turning once, until golden brown, about 20-30 minutes.
Aren't they gorgeous?
Serve with a splash of malt vinegar, and a salad of pungent, peppery greens; Fergus suggests watercress or red mustard.
These are meant to be eaten with the fingers, of course, and they are a carnivorous delight. Lush, plush, melting flesh, under a crisp golden crust. Here's how Fergus introduces this recipe: "On other pages, I have sung the praises of how the pig's snout and belly both have that special lip-sticking quality of fat and flesh merging, but this occurs in no part of the animal as wonderfully as on the tail." Amen.
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