I finally got around to making the crunchy ears starter. I saved the ears from the last head I bought (for guanciale / brawn). The Nasturtiums are pretty much finished now so I wanted to do this whilst they were still in flower.
- 2 fresh pig’s ears (ask your butcher or farmer – they’ll like you even more for asking)
- A small white onion, a carrot and a celery rib, diced
- Half a sliced leek
- A bouquet garni (Parsley stalks, bay leaf and sprigs of thyme wrapped in the outer leaf of a leek and tied with string)
- About 10 black peppercorns
For deep frying the ear slices:
- Panko breadcrumbs (you could use matzo meal instead, or just normal breadcrumbs)
- Beaten egg
- Well seasoned flour
- Veg oil
For the caper tartare sauce:
- A few finely diced shallots
- A tablespoon of finely chopped nasturtium capers (normal capers will do nicely too)
- A tablespoon of gherkins or cornichons, finely chopped (bonus points for pickling your own)
- A hard boiled egg
- About 100g of mayonnaise (bonus points if you make it yourself)
- Nasturtium flowers
- Nasturtium leaves
- Finely chopped fresh parsley
- The juice of half a lemon
First of all get the ears on the go. Give them a good scrub. Shave them, or use a blowtorch to get rid of any hairs.
Pop them into a pan with some cold water. Bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes then take them out and discard the water.
Refill the pan with cold water and add the ears and the other ingredients.
Bring to a simmer (don’t boil them), and simmer gently for a couple of hours, until a knife or skewer passes through them easily.
Whilst the ears are simmering away, make the tartare sauce:
Put the finely chopped egg, gherkins, capers and parsley into a bowl and add the mayo and the lemon juice. Mix well, season to taste, and then add most of the nasturtium flowers and leaves. Save a few flowers and leaves to for garnishing.
Once the ears are tender, put them between sheets of greaseproof paper, weigh them down with a couple of books or something else flat and heavy, and leave them to cool.
Fry the ears up:
Once they’re cool and flat, slice the ears into long, thin strips
Dust with flour, then beaten egg, and then cover with the Panko breadcrumbs and deep fry until crispy
Serve your crispy ear-based crackling snacks to your unsuspecting guests, or sit and munch them all yourself 🙂
Verdict: Not at all bad. The panko breadcrumbs are super crunchy and not greasy (make sure the oil’s hot enough!) The cartilage is crunchy when you bite into them. However, the real winner of this plate is the nasturium caper sauce, which is bloody delicious and offsets the ears brilliantly. Next time I’ll get more heavy handed with the seasoning of the flour.