Wednesday, August 8, 2007

"The wonderful, magical animal" - Crispy Pork Tails

As all of my friends know, I have an obsession with all thing pork — that "wonderful, magical animal". Since I discovered the wonders of farmers markets and the beauty of unusual cuts thanks to The Omnivore's Dilemma we have been experimenting with everything from bison neck, to pigs trotters, to beef marrow bones and tripes. For anyone who is excited by the possibilities of viscera and butcher cuts that have been forgotten in our Walmartized world should check out Nose to Tail Eating. A passion for the taste of "real meat" is what is going to save us from the $0.99 beef mince that came from who knows where. End of rant...

To bring us back from the precipice of grey meats are innovative chefs like Fergus Henderson.

Fergus Henderson's creations since they involve all of the senses in the culinary experience do need wines that have ample mouth cleansing acidity yet follow with enough fruit to stand up to the sensory assault of such richly flavored meat. The following recipe which comes from Nose to Tail Eating is a great match for a rich Pinot Noir like the 2004 Alcina Russian River we enjoyed it with. If you prefer a white, a young Sauterne with bracing acidity like a 2001 Chateau Bastor-Lamontagne would be an excellent match for the velvety mouth-feel of this dish.

Crispy Pigs’ Tails

To serve four

8 long pig’s tails

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 sticks of celery, chopped

a bundle of fresh herbs

3 bay leaves

10 black peppercorns

1 head of garlic

zest of 1 lemon

1/2 bottle of red wine

1.1 litres chicken of light stock

2 tbsp English mustard

4 eggs, whisked together

450g seasoned flour

225g fine white breadcrumbs

a large knob of butter


Place the tails in an oven dish with the vegetables, herbs, peppercorns, garlic, lemon zest, and wine, and cover with the stock. Cover with tinfoil, place in a medium oven, and cook for 3 hours, checking on it so it does not cook too fast; when done you should be able to easily pinch through the flesh. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool in the stock, but remove the tails before it turns to jelly and drain any excess liquid off them (you can refrigerate them at this point).

When they’re cold and firm, mix together the mustard and eggs and have ready three bowls flour, egg and mustard, and breadcrumbs. Dust them with flour, roll them in the egg and mustard mix, and finally coat them in the breadcrumbs so that they are well covered (do this just before you cook, otherwise the crumbs will go soggy).

Get a large ovenproof frying pan or roasting tray hot, add the butter, and when sizzling add the tails and roll them around (watch out, they can and will spit — be very careful). Place in a hot oven for 10 minutes, then turn them over, making sure there is enough butter, and roast for another 10 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they do not burn.

Serve hot with watercress or red mustard salad. Some may like a spot of malt or red wine vinegar on their tails. Encourage the use of fingers and much gnawing of the bone.

Get your hands dirty and fatty with this dish that is as much about the tactile senses as it is about aroma and taste!

<Best Homer Imitation> Hmmmmm, crispy pork tails... aaaaarrrrrrgggghhh </Best Homer Imitation>.


Edward said...


I'm a fan already (a blog written by a wine tragic, meat eating, Aussie wine drinking, pro screwcap male was always going to impress)!

Keep up the great work.

Andrew Nielsen said...

thanks edward! I have always been a wino sapien fan.