The new year has just begun and I already have a favorite cookbook: StÃ©phane Reynaud’s Pork & Sons from Phaidon. I immediately wanted it when I saw JosÃ© Reis de Matos’ pig illustrations and Carlotta’s hand-written curly titles bounded in baby pink and white gingham checks, but I held off from buying yet another cookbook. In Austin’s Bookpeople, it was sold at a discounted price; I finally walked away with it.
The front page has “for the love of sausages” written on it and there are drawings of pigs in hammocks, on bicycles, wading in mud and even pole dancing on the cover of a chapter called “A Piggy Party”. This book was made for me! If not to make your own sausages or cook this pig’s ears salad from page 186, just buy it to squeal–pun intended–at the illustrations.
As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew how it was going to taste and feel in my mouth. The pig’s ears will be gelatinous and the cartilage crunchy; the ginger and the shallots adding a kick while the spinach tames everything down. I loved the pig’s ears appetizer at El Quinto Pino and I could imagine this being served there as well. I would even try this with some flat parsley leaves or spicy arugula if I don’t have spinach handy. It’s good with a glass of white wine, but even better with cold beer.
3 pig’s ears, thoroughly washed
half a bunch of baby spinach
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 small knob of ginger, peeled, julienned
a handful of fresh chives, chopped
a few jiggers of red wine vinegar
1. Cook the pig’s ears in boiling water for 1 hour. Drain and let cool.
2. In the meantime, combine the shallots, ginger, chives and some canola oil in a bowl.
3. When the pig’s ears are cool enough to handle, slice thinly.
4. Heat some frying oil in a skillet and cook the ears until golden brown, while stirring occasionally using a wooden spoon to scrape off the gelatinous stuff that sticks to the bottom of the pan. Splash with the red wine vinegar and cook for 2 more minutes.
5. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel to drain the oil a little bit, and then transfer to the bowl with the spinach and shallot mixture. Toss and season with salt.