Looking for the latest nose-to-tail trend? Look no further than the lowly pig’s ear, whose fried form is currently popping up on a few of the area’s freshest menus. As much about texture as flavor, pig ears pack a lot of contrast into a small package: fried and crispy on the outside, chewy and yielding on the inside. What flavor they bring is rich and deep, funky and definitely porky.
Right now, my favorite version is being sold at the Green Pig Bistro in Arlington, where chef de cuisine Will Sullivan thinly slices the fried ears and serves them on a small corn tortilla with a dab of spiced avocado. The mini-tacos come three to an order.
It’s also worth tracking down the offerings at the Pig in Logan Circle and Jackson 20 in Alexandria. Both serve them as ingredients in rather decadent salads. At the Pig, the ribbons of crispy ear are stacked dramatically atop a pile of arugula and caramelized onions and accented with seared tomatoes and a vinaigrette that includes marrow in the emulsion. At the pig-statue decorated Jackson 20, where chef Brian McPherson has recently revamped the menu, the fried strips are joined by deviled eggs on a bed of bitter greens.
Talk about the proverbial silk purses — these dishes are a delicious way to introduce yourself to what might otherwise be a challenging ingredient.