Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pig Tails with Watercress Salad and Rosemary Sage Aioli

Always inspired by the more cruder things in life, recognizing the inherit beauty in things made even more transcendent by the simple act of care and nourishment we have the humble pig tail. The inspiration, and downright robbery of this recipe hails from the offal king himself Fergus Henderson, and his culinary pilgrimage of St. Johns Restaurant in England. My biggest contribution of his original dish is a little shine, but at its heart remains the same. This turned out absolutely delicious, and makes a great meal or snack. Feel free to prepare the tails ahead of time, as the tails freeze beautifully -however it might be wise to allow to dethaw before frying.

Pig Tails

  • 6 Pig tails (the bigger the better)
  • 3 Onions
  • Carrot
  • Celery Stalk
  • 4 Cloves of garlic
  • Pint and a Half of Beer (Fergus Henderson's recipe calls for wine)
  • 12 Peppercorns (cracked)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • Sprig of thyme
  • Flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Panko
  • Oil for deep frying (your choice)

Prepare the tails by either shaving, or singing off the hair with a blow torch. My thankfully were remarkably clean and did not need much in the way of hair removal. Begin by sweating off the mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) In a dish large enough to contain all the pig tails, when translucent add finely chopped garlic, and de glaze with beer. Bring beer to gentle boil and add pig tails. Stick into a 350 degree oven for about 3 hours, and let cool till just warm. If you leave too long the braising liquid will gel together and make it more difficult to remove the tails, however if this does occur carefully heat the pan back up. Prepare a dredging station using a bowl of flour, a bowl containing the eggs and mustard whisked together, and a bowl containing the panko bread crumbs (I find the panko will add a nice contrasting texture to the very soft texture of the tails.) First dip the tails in the flour, followed by the egg/mustard mixture and finally the panko. At this point it is entirely possible to keep them in the fridge, and they will freeze rather well. To prepare for the dish, heat up a deep fryer to 350 until golden brown.

Watercress Salad

  • Bunch of watercress
  • 1 Shallot
  • Red wine vinegar

While the tails are deep frying, heat a pan with oil and sweat out the shallot, add a handful of watercress. De glaze with vinegar. Your watercress should be just wilted and still retain a nice green colour.

Rosemary Sage Aioli

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (can be omitted but helps with emulsification)
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • 3-4 Sage leaves

Finely dice the herbs, and puree the garlic combine with the lemon juice, egg yolk, and mustard together. While whisking vigorously drop by drop add the oil. When the emulsification begins you can begin adding the oil in a very thin stream. If your mixture ends up splitting, you probably added the oil too fast, but dont throw it away. In a new bowl add another egg yolk and the mustard and slowly add in the split mixture the same way as before (being a little more careful.)