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Pig’s Ear Popcorn

29 Jul

So my current obsession with all things auricular means an infinite variety to my creations. As you might have noticed I also tend to be all over a food or ingredient for a few weeks and it’s all I want to use/eat. Lately I’ve been experimenting with making popcorn at home. An excellent mix to go on your popped corn is paprika, salt, sugar and dark chocolate.

But what would happen is crispy pig’s ears and popcorn got cooked together to make a delicious snack?

Offal snacks have been on my mind, as there are few offally bits that you can just pick up and run with. Scratching are one. I’m not sure about biltong. Gone are the days however, where my afternoon snack could be a couple of slices of ham. Oh dear. What to do? Tongue is an option, but what else could be out there?

Cue my patented pig’s ear popcorn! Similar to creating crispy pig’s ears, instead of a frying pan, use a saucepan. Fry the ears in hot oil for five minutes, then add your popping corn. Wait til it’s all popped and then shake through your salt, sugar, paprika, or whatever flavouring you’re balling with currently! I like some fennel and cumin seeds thrown in with the popping corn.

I made some to take on a long car journey with me and below is the picture of the remnants, because they were SO BLOODY DELICIOUS I snacked down on them all and forgot to take a good picture.

I used salt, sugar and paprika to shake on, leaving out the dark chocolate … chocolate and pork didn’t seem quite the perfect combination.

Next time you’ve got some pig’s ears lying around your fridge have a go! Or just pop some corn, it’s bloody great!

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Crispy Auricular Salad

15 Jul

How delicious does a Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad sound? I know. Incredibly delicious.

You may remember that I postulated that my off the cuff whim of buying pig’s ears might result in a pig’s ear carbonara from the Foodie Penpals Recipe … well, Crispy Pig’s Ear Salad is not that. Mostly because I kept coming across people saying how good crispy pig’s ears are. (You know who you are, Brian.)

You do need to prepare your ears first. Shave the hairs off (Bic razors are a good tool) and then scrub all the crevices (a toothbrush is another good tool) to remove any dirt/wax. It’s not as gross as it sounds. I did it when I roasted Arthur.

Then you need to poach your ears in a delicious stock. Since they are made up of skin, cartilage, tiny bits of meat and other thin tissues, there isn’t a huge amount of flavour there already, but they do carry the stock flavours on.

Here the ears are in their poaching liquid. I poached them for two hours until the skin was just beginning to come away. I added a bay leaf, a bouquet garni and a fresh lovage leaf (bobbing in the middle of the picture). When you fish the ears out, don’t through the stock away. The stock is awesome.* In fact if I was to make pork stock again I’d probably just use ears.

Then you need to press them. I put them on a plate, with another plate on top, and then a few bottles of beer top of that in the fridge overnight.

Now they are ready for you to make creations with. For a crispy pig’s ear salad, you need to slice the ear into long strips, that you then toss in corn flour and fry. I got most of my instructions from After Hours with Iggy – go check an awesome food blog!

That is the cross-section of a pig’s ear. Informative. Biological. Interesting. The white line is the cartilage and the pinkier bit at the bottom is some meat. Don’t worry about the cartilage being too tough. The poaching and then the frying makes it tasty nice! So cut as many fine slices as you want to eat. Then toss them in corn flour (for extra crispness – it makes a big difference to the taste). Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan (or if you have a deep fat fryer use that) and fry them until they are pretty crispy.

Sizzling in the pan! I used olive oil so they take about 4 mins on a high heat to get to the Crispy Factor. If you use sunflower oil that gets hotter, so it will probably take less time. Just watch as you toss.

While these were frying I made my vinaigrette. I’ve been experimenting with herbal vinegars (yes, I do live in 1992) and am currently enjoying strawberry vinegar (thyme and honeysuckle are also on the go). If I’m making dressing for one I use my indispensable tiny Tiptree jam jar. So I added one-third strawberry vinegar, two thirds Beauty Oil, a squeeze of lime and some chilli flakes. Then I shook my tiny jar. Presto! Dressing! Pronto!

The rest is history. Put the ears on kitchen towel to drain. Add leaves, ears and dressing to a bowl and enjoy.

I love pig’s ears. There will be more pig’s ears posts coming soon. Auricular pickles anyone?

* We used the stock to make an aromatic risotto of just onion, rice, orange zest, a teaspoon of dried mugwort and this stock. IT WAS SO GOOD.

Kidney Rosemary Skewers

11 Jul

What it says on the tin really.

Take two lamb kidneys, cut in half and de-core. Take a long stick of rosemary, push in one side and then back through – it gives very easily, don’t worry.

If you have time let them rest for an hour or two in the fridge, so the kidney get all the rosemary sucked in.

Grill on a BBQ or fry on a high heat2 mins each side (4 if you like your offal well done).

Two ingredients. A whole deliciousness.

More things should be on rosemary skewers.

Amen.

Sweets for my Sweet, Breads for my Bready?

1 Jul

Yup, it was 1994 in our house last week and C J Lewis was brapping around (Shaggy was busy). In his honour we decided to cook Sweetbreads! Yup a NEW OFFAL. One that didn’t even get touched in NosetoTail Fortnight …

This is an offal that we cannot now go and bulk buy. Then there would be many, many, many spare carcasses hanging around. Demand cannot out-strip supply. That is unsustainable. Sustainability is the name of the game!

Sweetbreads are glands. They can either be thyroid or pancreatic ones. I think these were thyroidy ones because they were plumper and roundish, rather than longer and thinner. I do know they came from a lamb. I also know I got them from the website Farmers Choice. Their website is very good, AND postage is reasonable AND you can choose your delivery day. Trufax! I also bought some pig’s ears.

The buying of the sweetbreads coincided with my Mum giving me Mark Hix’s new recipe book. It lists recipes month by month and is good at pointing out what is native and when it is best. There is a bit too much talk about foraging and fishing/hunting/poaching your own meat, not because I don’t find it fascinating, but because the reality of pretty much everyone I know is that doesn’t happen due to location restraints, I think, rather than time. I say this because a few years ago we were all told that there was no point in growing vegetables in cities because you just ended up with really polluted vegetables. It was in the papers – do you remember? I raised this point again on my herbs course at Dilston Physic Garden, as to how much benefit you lost by using herbs that grew in and around the city. Or if by using plants that breathed the same gases you did, whether that made them have a better synergy with you. All that aside, the Mark Hix book is good and should you wish to see what I’m talking about, you can find it here.

He suggests that sweetbreads be eaten in July. This is different to the “Spring” that I’ve read elsewhere. I guess June falls between the two nicely anyhow. Apparently you can do the same treatment with testicles. FYI.

The end bit of this recipe is a bit of a rat-race and you have to do things simultaneously. Just saying. I was a bit shocked in the change of pace from ‘lalalalala just change and soak lalalalalala’ to ‘BOIL, FRY, SIMMER, REDUCE, WATCH ALL THE PANS LIKE A HAWK AS NOTHING NEEDS COOKING FOR VERY LONG AT ALL’. Like you arrived at the Parochial Church Ramble and it turned out to be bleep-tests for ultra-runners.

Just do like a boy scout …

I had 250g of sweetbreads, so had to adjust the recipe, and it fed two people comfortably.

1 medium onion, 150ml lamb stock, 150g podded peas, 100ml double cream (I used extra thick), 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  1. Soak the sweetbreads in repeated changes of water until the water is pretty clear. This could take up to an hour (it took us about twenty minutes).
  2. Cover them with water and boil them for two minutes. Then drain and run COLD water over them. You will want to now peel away the outer membrane. It’s very fine (like the layer of cells between onion layers), but is definitely manageable:
  3. Now heat a knob of butter in a pan and fry the onion gently until soft. Add the stock and let it reduce til there is only a few tablespoons left mingled in with the onion.
  4. While the stock is reducing boil your peas for 3-4 and then cool them under running cold water.
  5. Add the cream to the onion/stock mix and let it reduce by a third.
  6. While the cream is reducing, heat a tablespoon oil in a frying pan, season the sweetbreads and fry them on a high heat until each side is crisp.
  7. Remove them from the pan (drain on kitchen towell if you feel the need), then add them to the cream mix along with the peas. Simmer it all together for a couple of minutes.
  8. Serve.

It is lovely and refreshing. VERY SWEET. Who knew meat could be this sweet? Almost like marshmallows, but a bit sweeter. Amazing. Nutty. Sweeter than testicles actually.

Would I make them again? Maybe. Would I order them in a restaurant? Yes. What do I think about the recipe? The peas added too much sweetness, but I’m not sure what you’d match with soemthing sweet, nutty and meaty. Any ideas? I was thinking maybe grapefruit? And lovage? As like a side salad?

Have you eaten sweetbreads? Are you too attached to your thyroid to eat that of another creature?

SoupTuesday Cookbook Swap …

29 Jun

Hello my name is Lucy and I like cooking things and posting things. You would have thought that foodie penpals would be enough for me. Well, you’re wrong. I signed up for a cook book swop too. Hosted by the SoupTuesday blog, you get matched with a person to send to and a person to get from. Oh yes.

This month was the first month so I’m hoping it goes well for everyone. The theme for this month was RETRO. I’ll confess striaght away that I couldn’t find a retro cookbook at home (at least one I was going to give away), so I trundled to British Heart Foundation and found a nice 80s one where you have to add cans of soup to lots of recipes. The reminded me a lot of an earlier but much older boyfriend’s cooking style. Retro indeed.

My cookbook came from Hannah at HomeBakedOnline. She writes a great blog about all the nice things and does it fantastically. It was ‘The Wholefood Cookbook’ by Pamela Westland. It is out of print now, but if you want, you can pick it up second hand off the old Amazon. The tagline is “Natural recipes for health”. Naturally I turned the pages to see if there was an offal recipe … I find all the older cookery books are generally pretty good for offal. There was one for Mushrooms and Liver Provencal. Fate.

So here is the recipe, photographed from the book:

Basically, you quickly fry the liver on both sides, then add it to a simple ragu of tomato, peppers and mushrooms. The herb used is marjoram. You serve it with ‘noodles’ but it is really tagliatelle!

My liver stack, waiting to enter the ragu

 

Part of the joy of the cookbook swop is being reminded in these recipes of things you’ve not seen for a while. I would like to know what happened to the savoury loaf? You know the ones NOT BREAD but things like asparagus and parmesan in a loaf tin, or a stripey one with carrot and fennel or whatever. Because I haven’t seen one for a while (especially not in a restaurant), not only am I going to resurrect them (Surprise Offal Loaf!), but I feel sure they will be the latest great food trend.

I’ve also enjoyed the 80s food photography in the book.

There is what the book reckons my provencal liver should look like. And here is what it actually looked like:

Note the two pieces of roast potato. What a nice extra. The best thing about this swop and the recipe I chose, is that it introduced me properly to the pairing of offal and pasta. I had been dubious after reading other recipes, but am pretty sold. I’ve also really liked the tomato liver sauce. And the fact that one herb (marjoram) is the star. I know I can get herb happy and toss them all in and I think its a good change for me to think consistently about single culinary herbs.

I hope there’s going to be another cookbook swop, so do get involved!

Lamb’s Liver and Orange?

6 Jun

This is a recipe I stole off of Nigel Slater. You can find it here. The title there is Lamb’s Liver with onion and Seville orange relish. Or as I realise now Marmalade Liver. Paddington would like that?

I was staying at my lovely Mum’s and she ever-so-thoughtfully bought us some lamb liver (which is the only offal me, Mum and my brother like). I could have just dusted it in flour and cooked it simply, but to be honest I’ve had quite a lot of floured offal in the past few months, so wanted to fancy it up a bit.

Unlike the modest beginning of this post. It is actually a pretty delicious recipe. So if you’re cooking liver, give it a go.

You will need:

Lamb’s liver for 3. Also salt and pepper, fresh sage leaves and 1 tsp mustard seeds.

4 onions, 25g butter, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 orange (preferably Seville) zested and juiced (you add the zest and jucie, not the whole fruit), 1tbsp cider vinegar, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 6 prunes chopped

  1. Cut the onions into quarters or rings and cook slowly for half an hours in the butter and oil so they go lovely and soft and gooey.

    You can see I mixed it with using red and white. Danger!

  2. While that’s going on put some salt, your mustard seeds, some peppercorns and your lovely fresh sage in your pestle and give it a bash.
  3. When the onions are as soft as you want, basically add the rest of the ingredients. Originally I used prunes and honey, but that was a bit too sweet. So don’t use honey. this is the voice of experience. This will be a sauce to go on top of your liver. So keep it warm while you cook your liver.
  4. Season each side of liver with your sage/pestle mix of seasoning. Fry/grill your liver on boths sides on a high heat for 2 minutes each side. I like my liver pink, longer if you don’t.

    Frying one side …

    … frying the other

  5. Serve with some nice vegetables and enjoy. I dry-fried some extra sage leaves to use as a garnish. Posh!

    our lovely Emma Birdgewater strewn table!

    My plate

    Mr Pink Liver!

    Fakenham Flollop for Pudding?

I would definitely recommend broadening your offal horizons. Get some liver down you! This Jimmy’s Farm or whatever programme (I’ve not seen it, just followed the resulting twitter threads) seems to have got people talking about offal and whether you should eat it. My biased answer is that yes, you should. It’s lovely if you cook it well. There reasons over ethics and sustainability that I shouldn’t have to say. Mostly I think it’s a matter of respect. If you eat meat, you should respect the animal. That includes eating its organs. Get over your squeamish selves.

The excuse of “It’s societal” is often rolled out. ‘Societal’ gets changed by being PERSONAL and endeavoring to live your life by the ethical standards that you choose. And that stands if you’re vegan, or meatatarian, or offaltarian, or only eat balloons. Once you consider what your own standards actually are, your own choices become much clearer. Just give it some thought …

Sausages – Nose to Tail Fortnight Day 11

11 May

The end of the week is always super busy. On Thursday I played netball until ten o clock. When I got home I realised I’d not had any dinner. What to eat?

Sausages!

Well one sausage. The lonesome sausage. In the freezer. Shivering for some love. I ate him with a fried egg.

Sausages were originally designed to use up all the offally parts. I’m pretty sure a lot still do, so that’s why I’m eating them. The posher ones I buy, I’m sure have never seen an organ, but it’s a difficult question to ask.

One day I will make my own sausages.

Then I will rule the world.