Crispy Fried Pig’s Ears with Arugula and Capers

Inspired by April Bloomfield’s Fried Pig’s Ear Salad and Adapted from Serious Eats’ “Deep Fried Pig’s Ears

It was April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig who first introduced me (via her cookbook, a Girl and Her Pig) to the wonder that is fried pig’s ears. They’re salty, tender yet crispy, and super indulgent; the lemon vinaigrette arugula salad brings a fresh and acid element to the dish that balances the decadence of the pig’s ears.

Ingredients:

6-8 pig’s ears

2 onions, quartered

2 carrots, rough-chopped

2 pieces of celery, rough-chopped

1 cup dry white wine (such as Pinot Grigio) or dry vermouth

A bouquet garni (thyme, rosemary, parsley, marjoram, tarragon, etc. bound together with kitchen twine)

1 TBSP salt, divided, plus more to taste

10 peppercorns

½ cup cornstarch

½ cup flour

Enough neutral oil (such as canola) to reach the “maximum” line on your deep frier*

Arugula (for the side)

Equal parts olive oil and lemon (to dress the arugula)

Freshly ground black pepper

Capers

Instructions:

Bring a large pot of water to boil; add the ears and boil for 3 minutes (this will rid them of impurities). Remove the ears from the pot, rinse the pot, and add the ears, onions, carrots, celery, white wine, bouquet garni, ½ TBSP salt, the peppercorns, and just enough water to cover the ears. Bring the pot to a boil again, lower to a simmer, and let cook uncovered for 2 hours, or until tender and easily pierced with a fork.

While the ears are simmering, add the rest of the salt, the cornstarch and the flour to a shallow bowl for dredging.

Remove the ears from the pot and allow to cool on a cutting board. Strain the water they cooked in and reserve to use as stock in another recipe. Get the oil heating in the deep fryer (it should be about 350F).

Once the ears are cool enough to handle, slice them into ¼-inch slivers. Evenly dredge them in the cornstarch and flour mixture, and add them, a batch at a time (about 6 slivers) without overcrowding the fryer and/or causing sputtering. Close the lid to contain the popping bursts of oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes, until the ears are golden brown and crisp. Remove, sprinkle with a bit more salt, set someplace where they’ll stay warm (like a toaster oven), and do the next batches, until everything is cooked.

Put the olive oil and lemon juice in a small Tupperware container and shake vigorously until emulsified. Toss the arugula with the dressing, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and capers, and serve on the side with the pig’s ears.

*While you can fry these in a cast iron skillet with 1 quart of neutral oil, the splattering is quite intense, so I recommend using a deep fryer with a lid.

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