Embrace the nose to tail philosophy of sustainable eating with this Crunchy Buffalo Pig Ear Recipe. Strips of local farm raised slow cooked pig ear are fried until crispy and tossed in a spicy buffalo sauce for an unique appetizer!
WTF?! Is probably what you thought after reading the title of this recipe. When I told my own open-minded-about-all-kinds-of-foods Mother about this recipe, she replied “You can eat pig ears?” Yes, you can eat pig ears. People eat them all over the world, but in America, only really cool people eat them.
Sustainably and what it means for everyone…
Sustainably to me has become much more important, since moving to an area full of local farms. I try to purchase as much of our food as possible from farms (aka: within our budget) and that means we eat the less desired cuts often. Let’s face it, eating farm-to-table can’t always be as pretty as these braised lamb shanks. It’s also completely normal to feel uncomfortable when thinking about eating unfamiliar parts of an animal that don’t come in the nicely wrapped up packages at the grocery store.
Adopting a nose-to-tail approach to eating is a wonderful way to broaden your culinary horizons while also honoring the ultimate sacrifice made by these animals that are raised for our consumption. It’s more sustainable, less wasteful, and…from a strictly selfish viewpoint…the uncommon cuts can be the tastiest bits around (and the least expensive)! It’s so much better to appreciate the whole, not just the pretty pieces.
I’m no stranger to pig ears. I’ve eaten braised pig ear strips in Chinese restaurants numerous times and have always loved them. Sliced thin and served cold tossed in a light sesame oil dressing, the strips have a chewy texture with a bite and are delightfully delicious.
After a recent trip to my favorite local farm, I bought some ears with the full intention of making my favorite Chinese salad at home…until I talked to my good friend Dawn and she told me about the crispy buffalo pig ear strips she ate one time. Well, you don’t have to tell me twice, I’m making spicy crunchy ears!!
How to make crispy pig ears!
Pig ears contain lots of collagen, so they must be braised low and slow, in a liquid, until tender (about 3 hours). The inside will never be fall apart tender, but the outside will be. When ready, just dry off the ears, cut into strips, and fry them as-is in hot oil. No coating is needed! The outside of the ear strips get super crispy, just from the oil frying the skin.
Hope you give this crunchy buffalo pig ear recipe a chance and try them at home! Don’t forget they are Paleo and gluten free too! Plus they make great game day eats all weekend long.
- 1 1/2 pounds pig ears (about 5 or 6), local farm raised, organic, and grass-fed preferred
- 2 whole garlic cloves , peeled
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- oil for deep frying
- 1/2- 1 cup buffalo sauce , homemade or store bought
- 1 cup blue cheese dressing , as a dip for the strips
Wash pig ears thoroughly and scrape off any hair, if necessary. Place pig ears in a large pot and add the garlic cloves, thyme, and peppercorns. Fill pot with water until it just covers all the ears. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover pot with a lid and simmer until ears are fork tender, about 3 hours. Check the pot a couple of times to make sure the ears are completely covered by water at all times while cooking.
Remove cooked ears to a cooling rack to cool and reserve stock for a later use. Once cool, dry the ears and place in covered container in the refrigerator overnight.
When ready to fry, fill a large pot with 3-4 inches of oil and heat over medium-high heat until temperature reaches 350F/176C degrees. While the oil is heating, remove ears from the refrigerator, pat dry with paper towels (if necessary), and cut into 1/4" strips. Fry strips in batches (don't overcrowd) for 2-3 minutes, until crispy and golden brown, and remove to a rack or paper towels to drain.
Place all the strips in a bowl and mix with the buffalo sauce. Serve immediately with homemade blue cheese dressing!