Monday, July 18, 2016

Fried Miss Piggy's Ears

Fried Miss Piggy's Ears
I had fried pig's ear salad in NYC some years back. To be honest I had no idea how it was going to taste but somehow thought it was going to be amazing the way it sounded. The write up on the menu said the ears were slow cooked for many hours in oil. When I got the dish I was a bit surprised to find the ear whole and a bit tough. Dining out where your table is close in proximity to other diners is a bit awkward especially when you are trying to cut into a piece of cartilage! I could not believe I managed to eat the entire salad without having a piece flying off my plate and hitting someone! I guess my expectation was way too high. Would I eat that salad again? Probably not. However, eating that made me think of ways to improve the technique. Here is my version of fried pig's ears. I boiled the ears for 30 minutes to soften them, sliced them into strips and then deep fry them for about a minute. If you want crispier ears then fry them a little longer. I prefer one-minute of frying. This amount of time makes the ears softer. Frying them longer tends to make them tougher and chewier. It's good to have good teeth when you eat them!

After work my husband and I drove to Ogunquit, Maine for an evening out. We wanted to walk along the ocean and check out the town. We stopped for some tapas. One of the dishes was an octopus dish with a harissa sauce. Typically this sauce is made with various ingredients such as chili peppers, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, caraway seeds, garlic, and lemon juice. Below is my my version of this sauce using ingredients I have in my kitchen. 

Boiled Miss Piggy's Ears

Ingredients:

4 cleaned pig's ears (see How to Clean Pig's Ears post), cut in half
1 tsp salt
10 cups water

Method:

Boil the pig's ears in 1 tsp of salt and water for 30 minutes (may boil longer if you prefer more tender ears) in a 5 or 6 quart heavy pot. Remove and let them partially cooled before handling them. Cut the ears into 1/4 inch strips.

*These ear strips will get gelatinous if you leave them too long especially in a cool place. I cut these into strips and put them in the refrigerator to be used later. The next day they were all stuck together. You can gently and easily separate them apart with your fingers.

boiled Miss Piggy's Ears
Fried Miss Piggy's Ears

Ingredients:

1 batch of Boiled Miss Piggy's Ears (see recipe above)
Oil for frying


Method:

Deep fry the ears for about a minute (longer if you prefer them chewier). Remove the fried strips and put them on a plate with paper towels to let the oil drain off.

*Be sure to use a splatter guard over the pot while frying to prevent the grease from spurting out. I put down newspapers all around the pot for easy cleaning. Also be sure you are wearing goggles, long sleeved shirt and maybe even gloves in case the oil spurt out. The last thing you need is having hot grease in your eyes or other part of your body.

harissa-inspired sauce
Harissa-inspired Sauce (makes about 1/4 cup)

Ingredients:

About 3 Tbsp olive oil
About 1/2 tsp ground cumin
About 1/2 tsp  ground black or white pepper
About 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper (add more if you prefer more heat)
2 garlic cloves, smashed, chopped
About 2 Tbsp chopped shallot
1 tomato, deseeded, chopped
A few pinches of salt
A pinch of sugar
About 6 fresh mint leaves, julienned

cooked sauce ready to be pureed
Method:

Heat oil in a small pan. Add cumin and peppers. Saute about 30 seconds. Add garlic and shallot. Saute about a minute. Add tomato and cook for about 1-2 minutes until everything is soft. Season with salt and sugar. Remove from heat and let cool. Puree the cooked sauce with mint leaves until everything is blended.

fried Miss Piggy's ear salad
If I have to make a Fried Miss Piggy's Ear Salad this is how I would present it. There is a double dressing here. I toss the lettuce, cucumber slices, cubed tomato pieces and young cilantro and flowers with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle a few dollops of Harissa-inspired Sauce and a few strips of Fried Miss Piggy's Ears. The result is tasty and the ear pieces will probably not be jumping off your plate!

evening beach view of Ogunquit Maine (2016)

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