Historically, these so-called odd bits have had a regular place on our plates around the world for years. In fact, many are considered delicacies. So why do we eschew and waste valuable protein? When have our sensibilities become so squeamish? We recently served these salty, crunchy delicacies at our recent winter pop-up restaurant with mixed response. Being a sustainable farm, Wickedfood Earth has had to think of more recipes to cater for nose-to-tail style of cooking and eating. Prepared properly, a pig’s ear can be meltingly tender, rich, fatty, chewy, or crispy–and ideally, all of these things at once thanks to the unique make up of a pig’s ear: tough cartilage that can be made soft and chewy, a bit of meat and fat, and a whole lot of skin that can be crisped into ear crackling.
Once you add food to your hot oil, the temperature will drop — therefore, you’ll want to get it hot before cooking. Recipes may vary, but you’ll want to preheat your oil to somewhere around 180ºC. During cooking, you should aim to keep it around 160 degrees. Keeping your oil hot enough — but not too hot — will ensure crispy, golden, never-soggy results.
If your oil begins to smoke, you know it’s too hot. This can impart bad flavour on your food, so if you see smoke, remove your pan from the heat carefully.
4 medium pig’s ears
1L of water
20g of flour
oil for deep frying
- Trim the inner part of the ear off and discard, so as to just have the flat trimmed ear left.
- Place ears in a pressure cooker with the water and bring up to a boil on high heat.
- Once the pot is steaming, reduce to medium heat and cook for 3-3 ½ hours.
- Take ears off heat, remove from pot, rinse and cool in fridge over night.
- Next day, strip slice ears into even strips about ½ cm thick.
- Heat up oil to for deep frying and in a separate bowl, dust all the cut ears in flour until they are all evenly coated.
- Drop ears in hot oil to deep fry for about 2 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
- Remove ears and drain on paper towels.
- Sprinkle the ears with sea salt and serve hot with a cold beer.
Cooking School, Sunninghill, Johannesburg