Yes, you read that correctly. Pig ear. I saw a bunch of packages of them at the market, and picked one up, having absolutely no idea what I was going to do with them. I figured if I couldn't find a way to cook them (for people), at least the dogs would have fun. Warning, if you're squeamish, you might want to skip this one. I thought the whole process was pretty interesting, myself.
Turns out, I was able to find a few recipes. They started with boiling the scary things for a couple hours until they were tender. So that's what I did. Observe.
Upon seeing the three ears on the counter, my Youngest asked me, "Three? How did that happen?" I told her maybe the second pig had an accident. I almost said maybe the pig had a genetic disorder that made him grow a third ear, but she was already freaked out enough by their mere presence, so I'm glad that my shut-up switch worked.
My first recipe was for Crisp Fried Pig's Ears. Kind of like bacon bits, or pork cracklins. Only, ears. So, the next step was to let the ear (I stowed the other two in the fridge) cool until it stopped wobbling. Then, I proceeded to slice.
Isn't it neat? Skin, fat and cartilage in distinct layers. Up at the end (or, I guess, the beginning) where the ear used to attach to the head, there was a little meat as well.
Next, you make sure the strips are as dry as possible (foreshadowing), and coat them in a 50/50 mix of flour and cornstarch in attempt to prevent spattering when you deep-fry them (more foreshadowing). Heat some neutral oil to 350, carefully slip in a few pieces at a time, and stir them gently while frying so they don't stick together.
The finished product:
The taste? Like the crispy skin from a pork roast. But with that cartilage-y bit in the middle.
Now, I skipped a part. A really important part. The part after you carefully slip the ear strips into the oil, and all of a sudden you have oil popping and hissing and splattering absolutely everywhere. Because when you boil an ear for hours, it soaks up a lot of water. Then when you drop that water-logged ear into hot oil, the water turns to steam, forcing the oil out of the pot. Onto your clothing. And hands. And ceiling. And dangerously close to your eyeballs.
So, would I do this again? Hell, no.