Crispy Pig’s Tails

On other pages I have sung the praises of how the pig’s snout and belly both have that special lip-sticking quality of fat and flesh merging, but this occurs in no part of the animal as wonderfully as on the tail.  Like an ice cream on a stick, a pig’s tail offers up all of the above on a well-behaved set of bones.  By the by, dealing with any slightly hairy extremities of pig, I recommend a throwaway Bic razor (hot towels and shaving cream not required).  You must ask your butcher for long tails.

Happy Labor Day to you and yours, if you happen to be celebrating it.  Since I took last week off accidentally, I’ll be updating today as penance.

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I’d like to first point out that I could not for the life of me find long pig tails.  I asked at farmer’s markets, I bothered foodie friends, and I hit up local butchers.  Nobody in Texas had access to long piggy tails.  I don’t know if it’s because the tails are docked here in America or what, but these stubby little extremities were all I could find.  Please Mr. Henderson, forgive me.

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After removing the tails from their Styrofoam prisons, I gave each one of them a good scrubbing before resting them in a heavy oven proof pan.

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The tails were shortly met with a half bottle of red wine, some chicken stock, the usual stock vegetables, a bouquet garni and some whole peppercorns.  Mr. Henderson asked for a simple braising, and I was ready to play along.  The pan was then covered with heavy duty aluminum foil and placed into a hot oven for a little over three hours.

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After the allotted time had expired I pulled the pan out of the oven and checked to see if the tails had properly cooked.  Mr. Henderson mentions that the flesh should be soft enough to allow one to easily pinch through it.  One quick piggy tail pinch later and their doneness was confirmed as acceptable.

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At this point the tails needed to cool down and solidify, so they were placed in the fridge for the evening.

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The next day my wife and I set up three bowls for breading the now cold piggy tails.

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The first bowl held a few cups of flour seasoned with salt and pepper.  Special thanks to my wife for the hand modeling.

The second bowl was filled with raw eggs mixed with some of the always excellent Colman’s mustard.

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Finally, the tails ended up in a big bowl of panko bread crumbs.  Mr. Henderson never specified which kind of bread crumbs he expected us to use, so I went for my favorite.

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The tails were then placed into a butter-filled, sizzling hot pan.  I quickly tossed each tail in the butter a few times before dropping the whole thing in a sweltering hot oven to brown.  How good does that sound?  Gold brown pig tail?   Mmm, mmm, mmm!

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And here is the finished product, served with a side salad of watercress.  The tails on their own are fantastic: crispy, fatty, porky goodness in a hand friendly package.  Mr. Henderson suggests that diners might enjoy they tails with a spot of malt or red wine vinegar, and he’s quite right.  You really need something acidic to cut the fatty nature of the tails down a little.

The next time you head to the Asian market, check if they have pig tails handy.  If they do, FIND A WAY TO MAKE THIS RECIPE.  Beg, borrow or buy a copy of the book and do yourself a favor.   I totally intend on making this again, and soon.  It’s just that good.

One down, forty eight to go.

16 thoughts on “Crispy Pig’s Tails

  1. Hi, those suckers look pretty interesting. Double cooked. But anyway – I wanted to mention that there seems to be something wrong with your RSS feed as in Google reader there are a lot of weird spam like terms littered through the text.

  2. I’m seeing the same thing as Luke – there’s a three word phrase being inserted into the RSS feed text. I’d change all your passwords, and have a look in your WordPress directory for hidden files (ones beginning with a “.”) as spam in RSS is a pretty sure sign your WordPress has been hacked.

  3. I am curious as to how big the bones are in the piggy tails. Are they quite manageable, or do you have to delicately remove them from your mouth like braised chicken feet in dim sum???

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  5. this is almost revolutionary in my view! I’ve now got to try to find those curly pig tails, although I too doubt it! ps so sorry to hear about the problem with the site!

  6. Luke, Jack: Thanks for the heads up that morning. After a few hours of scrambling around, I got things back to semi-normal.

    AndyG: The tail bones are substantial, and stay together pretty well. The practice of eating is more akin to eating a rib than a chicken foot. Oh, now I want some dim sum. ;)

    Thanks Jay!

    Katrina: If you can find them, let me know how this recipe works out for you, please.

  7. Next time you do this recipe, after the braise take out all the bones. It’s persnickety, but you then roll the remainder tight and THEN bread and fry it. Holy crap! It’s like the greatest corn dog in the world, and far easier to eat than the bone-in version.

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  9. If you liked that I’d really recommend you go all the way and make a variant on pig’s head or foot torchon- all the creaminess porkiness and golden crust without any of the bones. I’d recommend head/rolled jowl over feet though, I have a video showing why you just shouldn’t bother with hairy gross trotters. http://www.foodbomb.org/2010/video/333

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  11. I saw Fergus Henderson make these on Australian Masterchef, I started out with my nose wrinkled at the thought and ended up on the phone to my local (amazing) butcher, who assures me pig tails are no problem.

    I’m glad I found your version, as on the TV Chef Henderson deep fries them at the end, but I think I’ll bake them like you did, it may even be marginally healthier!

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  13. Pig tails are docked in the US at hog farms. Other pigs will gnaw them off to put it gently. If you find people who have “show pigs” then you might find some here and there that are longer as their tails aren’t always docked like in the hog industry. Or, you could ask a butcher in an area where 4-H hogs are processed after the animal auction as many of those have longer tails.

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