Crispy pigs’ ear salad

Crispy pigs’ ear salad

Salada de orelha de porco

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Serves
4
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It is a domestic tradition in Portugal to slaughter a pig every year in a ritual called the matança. At our family farm in the Alentejo region, we used do it in January when the pigs were extra fat because of the cold. Every part of the animal was used: the legs for hams; the blood in a flavoured rice; the intestines as casings for chouriço or morcela; the fat rendered down to make lard and the ears salted for a couple of hours, then fried and added to a lovely salad. Here is our family recipe for that dish, in which the acidic notes of the orange and sherry vinegar are perfect with the crispy ears. You’ll need to start preparing the pigs’ ears the day before you want to eat them.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
fine sea salt, to cover
3 pigs’ ears, cleaned
1 banana shallot, halved
1 bay leaf
a few black peppercorns
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 oranges, (preferably blood oranges)
or 1 large grapefruit
1 small white onion, finely diced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
a small handful coriander leaves, roughly torn
smoked paprika, to taste
sea salt flakes
ground white pepper

Method

  1. Sprinkle a light layer of sea salt over the pigs’ ears and chill for 2 hours in the fridge. Rinse off the salt and pat dry with kitchen paper. Put the ears in a pan with water to cover and the shallot, bay leaf and black peppercorns. Simmer gently for 2 hours, or until cooked through.
  2. Put the ears on a tray, cover with baking parchment and put a weight on top to press them down (I normally use tinned beans). Chill overnight, ideally for 24 hours.
  3. Heat the 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the ears and cook for 4 minutes or so on each side, or until crispy. To make sure they crisp up, press them down but do not move them as they fry. Remove and, once cool enough to touch, roughly dice.
  4. Cut the peel off the oranges and cut out the segments, leaving the membrane behind. Squeeze the juice from the trimmings into a bowl, and add the segments. Add the onion, extra-virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar. Stir in the pigs’ ears and coriander and season with salt, pepper and paprika. You can eat it warm or leave it to marinate for a few hours.
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