Diary of a Foodie

Crispy Pigs’ Tails

Diary of a Foodie: Season One: Zen and the Art of Cooking

  • Active Time:45 min
  • Start to Finish:9 1/2 hr
January 2007
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  • 8 long fresh pigs' tails (7 to 9 inches; 4 pounds total; see cooks' note, below)
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled
  • 3 large sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Zest of 1 lemon, removed in strips with a vegetable peeler (avoid bitter white pith)
  • 3 Turkish or 1 1/2 California bay leaves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (36 fl oz)
  • 2 tablespoons dry mustard
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups fine dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
  • Special equipment:

    heavy-duty foil
  • Accompaniments:

    watercress or red mustard salad; malt or red-wine vinegar
  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • Arrange tails in a 17- by 11-inch flameproof roasting pan, then add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, herb sprigs, zest, bay leaves, peppercorns, wine, and broth and cover tightly with heavy-duty foil. Braise in oven until you can easily pinch through flesh of tails, about 3 hours. Cool (in cooking liquid), uncovered, to room temperature, about 2 hours, then chill, covered loosely, until pigs' tails are cold and firm, about 3 hours.
  • Put a 17- by 12-inch heavy shallow baking pan (1 inch deep) on middle rack of oven and preheat oven to 450ºF.
  • Remove tails from braising mixture and brush off adhering vegetables and aspic. Sprinkle tails with salt.
  • Whisk together mustard and eggs in a wide shallow dish and put flour and bread crumbs each in a separate wide shallow dish. Working with 1 tail at a time, dredge tails in flour, knocking off excess, then coat with egg, brushing it into the crevices and letting excess drip off, and roll tails in bread crumbs, coating thoroughly. Transfer as coated to a sheet of wax paper.
  • Remove hot baking pan from oven and add butter to pan, tilting it to coat. When foam subsides, add tails. Using tongs, turn and coat tails with butter on all sides (use caution; butter will spatter). Roast until underside is browned, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn tails over and roast until other side is browned, 10 to 15 minutes more.
Cooks' notes: Pig tails are available from Landi's Pork Store (718-763-3230). Braised tails can be chilled up to 2 days.
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