Fried Pig’s Tails, Beans, Deviled Quail Egg, & Sauce Ravigote Recipe

Fried Pig’s Tails, Beans, Deviled Quail Egg, & Sauce Ravigote Recipe

The following guest post is by Brenda (@mightyvanilla).

“The pig’s tail is rarely used, and to transform it into an elegant and satisfying dish is the kind of cooking that is very exciting for us. Whole pig’s tails are cooked sous vide with chicken stock and aromatics until the abundant collagen has melted and the tails are very tender. They’re cooled, butterflied to remove the bones and cartilage, then re-rolled back into shape, wrapped in plastic and chilled. The abundant gelatin from the skin solidifies the tails, which are then breaded and fried – resulting in a crispy exterior and melting rich interior.

The tails are severed with a sharp ravigote sauce (a mustard shallot vinaigrette), romano beans, and frisée salad.”

– from Under Pressure by Thomas Keller

Note: This post contains images that may not be for the squeamish.

When I saw the picture of this plated dish in the Under Pressure cookbook, I was captivated. This is a pig’s tail? I’m a sucker for a food porn cookbook and Thomas Keller’s are some of my most treasured and used tomes. Not only that, I grew up eating offal and unusual cuts of meat and find that they can be simpler and more forgiving to prepare due to longer slower cooking methods. I happened to have some Cutter Ranch pig tails in the freezer and this recipe seemed like the perfect way to elevate a part of the pig that is usually discarded or often unavailable. (Ordering from small farms and independent butchers is beneficial for many reasons. Cutter Ranch’s pigs are heritage breeds; the animals are allowed to range freely on pasture and their tails are left on whole. Factory farmed pigs often have their tails docked due to more stressful and crowded living conditions.)

The recipe only called for pig’s tails but the ones I had were still attached to part of the back and there was still a fair amount of meat on them. This recipe is about creating something delicious and beautiful from a little-used part of the pig so I cut the back portions off and cooked them with the tails. The tails and back pieces were sous vide for 8 hours and the rest of the components were made during that time.

The recipe calls for 4 cooked quails eggs, and the egg yolks need to be passed through a sieve and mixed with crème fraîche before being piped back into the cooked egg white halves. Four quails egg yolks isn’t very much volume so I decided to cook a few extra just in case. I didn’t have crème fraîche on hand so yogurt was substituted instead, and I added more than the recipe called to get the mixture smooth and pipeable.

For the Sauce Ravigote, I used balsamic instead of champagne but this made the sauce darker than the picture in the cookbook showed; cider vinegar or rice vinegar would be better. Oddly enough, the sauce seemed to break slightly and a small film of oil formed at the top. Oil-based sauces break due to lack of emulsification so the likely cause was incorporating the oil into the rest of the ingredients too quickly. Even though the sauce didn’t look the same as the picture, it still tasted really good and it was interesting to make an oil-based sauce without using an egg yolk.

Romano beans weren’t available at the farmer’s market at the time I made this recipe earlier in the summer but I found some beautifully tender string beans and used those instead. The beans were quickly blanched whole in salted water, shocked, cut into pieces, lightly dressed with oil and vinegar, and set aside until serving time.

Once the tails and back pieces had finished cooking, the cooking liquid was drained off and set aside while the meat cooled. (I was surprised at how intensely porky and flavourful the cooking liquid was. A small amount of it is used to bind the wrapped tails but I saved the rest for noodle soup on a rainy day – perfect for ramen.) The pig’s tails were very easy to debone: a slit was cut along the entire length and I was able to pry the entire tailbone out in one piece with the fingers. (Free range animals tend to have stronger bones so this may have been the reason.) I decided to cut the last 2-3” of the tail tips off as they didn’t have much meat, but I replaced their bulk with about 2 Tbsp of shredded back meat. A small amount of cooking liquid was added to each deboned tail and the insides were seasoned before being rolled in plastic wrap.

Interestingly, the recipe in the book says “roll the tail in the plastic to return it to its original shape”. The original pig tail shape is a of a long and thin tapered cone but the pictures of the wrapped tails and the finished dish show the shape of a chubby cylinder. I decided to go with the chubby cylinder shape. This was obtained by folding the tail onto itself so that the narrow end of it overlapped with the thicker end. The tails were rolled up in the plastic wrap and the ends tied off. The tails were then left to chill overnight in the refrigerator to set the shape.

Once the tails were thoroughly set, they were dipped in flour, egg yolks and panko crumbs, chilled again to set the coating, and then deep fried for several minutes to cook the crust and heat the tails.

Once the tails were fried, the plating came together very quickly since everything else was already ready: first a generous spoonful of Sauce Ravigote, then the sliced beans, a fried pig’s tail, and two quails egg halves on the side. Lastly the pig’s tails were topped with coarse grained salt and assorted micro herbs harvested from the the garden. I really enjoyed making and eating this dish, and it reminded me of a fancy corn dog but much better. The texture of the tails is soft and meaty, with the texture of the meat similar to that of shredded rillettes. The slow sous vide cooking turns the pig skin soft and fork-tender.

Fried Pig’s Tails, Beans, Deviled Quail Egg, & Sauce Ravigote Recipe

Serves 4 as an appetizer course

Ingredients

Pig’s Tails

  • 1 thyme sprig
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1g (1/8 tsp) black peppercorns
  • 1g (1/8 tsp) coriander seeds
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 4 pig’s tails (500g total), cold
  • 250g chicken stock, cold
  • 1 carrot, cut into 1” dice
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1” dice
  • ¼ yellow onion, cut into 1” dice
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 65g all purpose flour
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 75g finely ground panko crumbs (finely ground in a food processor)
  • Canola oil for deep frying (or peanut, or vegetable), ~6-8 cups
  • sel gris or fleur de sel to finish 

Sauce Ravigote (makes ~¾ cup)

  • 26g Dijon mustard
  • 10g finely minced shallot
  • 30g champagne vinegar (or cider vinegar or sherry vinegar)
  • 5g granulated sugar
  • 5g kosher salt, or to taste
  • 90g extra virgin olive oil
  • 90g canola oil

Quail Eggs

  • 4 quail eggs (plus a few extra if available)
  • 6g crème fraîche (or sour cream or Greek yogurt)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • spicy paprika

Romano Beans

  • 4 green Romano beans
  • 4 yellow Romano beans
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch of minced shallot
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Frisée Salad

  • frisée leaves (or microgreens or micro herbs)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • champagne vinegar (or cider vinegar or sherry vinegar)
  • minced chives
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Notes for success

  • The pig’s tails can be sous vide, deboned, wrapped in plastic and kept refrigerated for several days. The remainder of the components can be prepared several days in advance and kept refrigerated until serving.

  • The pig’s tails can be fried ahead of time and kept in the refrigerated for several hours or overnight. Before serving, warm them for 15 minutes in a 350F oven.

  • Work quickly to remove the bones from the tails, the tails will get stickier as they cool.

  • When coating the tails with the flour, egg, and panko mixture, handle them as little as possible so that an even coating is obtained. Use one hand to dip tails into flour and drop them into flour, another to transfer from egg to panko. Keep one hand dry and the other eggy to avoid having to clean the hands between tails. If the flour and panko are placed in shallow bowls, the tails can be rolled around in the bowls without having to touch them.

  • The Sauce Ravigote makes much more than the recipe calls for and can be halved.

  • Mince 1 large shallot (12-15g peeled) for the Sauce Ravigote and reserve a small amount for the beans.

  • It is difficult to pipe such a small amount of egg yolks so it’s better to make a few extra. They look very cute on the plate and are also delicious on their own and can be used as hors d’oeuvres.

  • The quails eggs and beans can be cooked in the same pot of water and chilled in the same ice bath.

  • Use a disposable piping bag or ziploc bag with small star piping tip to pipe the yolks.

Method

For the Pig’s Tails

pig tails mise 2Pig’s tails mise en place 

  1. If the tails still have a large portion of back attached, cut them off with a sharp knife and sous vide the back pieces with the tails at the same time. If the pieces are very large, double the amount of mise en place and sous vide the back pieces in their own bag.

  2. Make an herb sachet with the thyme, bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander seeds, and garlic clove: Placing them on a small sheet of plastic wrap, roll up the sachet, and cut off the ends of the roll so that the herbs are just covered.

pig tails pre sous vide 3Pig’s tails before sous vide

  1. Arrange the tails in a single layer in a large bag and add the chicken stock, herb sachet, carrot, celery and onion. Vacuum-pack on medium.

  2. Cook at 82.2C (180F) for 8 hours. (SousVide Supreme preferred).

pig tails post sous vide 4Pig’s tails after sous vide

  1. Let the pig’s tails rest at room temperature just until they have cooled enough to handle. It is important to work with the tails while they are still warm; if they cool down too much and seize up, place them, with their liquid, in a saucepan and rewarm.

  2. Remove the tails from the braising liquid and reserve the liquid.

cut pig tail 5Deboning a pig’s tail: cut a slit along the length

deboning pig tail 6Pry the meat away from the tailbone

deboned pig tail 7Remove the tail bone, it should come out in one piece

  1. Place a tail on the work surface. Make a cut down the length and, using a knife and your hands, pull back the skin and meat to expose the bones, cutting against the bones to leave as much meat as possible attached to the skin. Use your fingers to gently remove the tail bones – they should come out in one piece. Run your fingers over the meat to find any small pieces of cartilage, and remove them. Trim any rough edges. Trim off the last 2-3 inches of tail where there is little or no meat. If there was no extra back meat then reserve the trim for stuffing the tail. Bone and trim the remaining tails.

  2. If back pieces had been sous vide, separate the meat from the bones and loosely shred the meat.

wrapped pig tail 8Wrapped pig’s tails

  1. Dampen the work surface slightly with your hand or a wet kitchen towel. Place a piece of 18” wide food-safe plastic wrap long enough to enclose a tail on the surface. Lay an opened tail across the bottom of the plastic. Season well with salt and pepper. Moisten the top of the meat with about 5g (1 tsp) of the braising liquid. (The liquid is so gelatinous that it will help to hold the tail together.) If there is shredded back meat then add about 2 Tbsp of meat to the opened tail, otherwise add the 2-3” end of the tail that had been trimmed off. Folded the tail onto itself so that the narrow end overlaps with the wider end; the final shape should be of an even thickness along the length. Roll the tail up in the plastic wrap.

  2. Grasping the two ends of the plastic wrap, roll the wrapped tails along the counter to tighten the plastic wrap until the tails are a uniform cylindrical shape. Do not overtighten. Tie the ends of the plastic wrap off to keep the shape. Repeat with the remaining tails. Refrigerate overnight, or chill in an ice bath.

  3. Reserve the remaining braising liquid and shredded back meat for another use.

fried pig tails mise 9Dipping the pig’s tails

  1. Put the flour, beaten eggs, and panko crumbs in three separate shallow dishes. Unwrap the tails and season well with salt and pepper. Line large plate (or small baking sheet) with parchment paper.

  2. Dip the tails into the flour, patting off any excess, then into the egg, scraping off any excess, and then into the panko crumbs. Dip into the egg and panko a second time. Handle the tails as carefully as possible so that they are evenly coated. Place the tails on the plate and refrigerate to chill and set the coating.

breaded pigs tails 10After dipping, the pig’s tails need to be refrigerated to set the coating

  1. To complete: Heat the oven to 350F. Heat the oil to 176C (350F). Be careful as you cook the tails: occasionally one may split or spit oil. Lower the tails 2 at a time into the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes, turning as necessary for even colour. Drain on paper towels, and arrange on a sheet pan. Transfer the tails to the oven to heat for at least 3 minutes, or until hot throughout.

For the Sauce Ravigote

pig tail sauce ravigote mise 11Sauce Ravigote mise en place

  1. Whisk together the mustard, shallot, vinegar, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and canola oil to emulsify. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary. 

For the Quail Eggs

  1. Bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Bring the quails eggs up to room temperature or place them in a bowl of warm tap water while the hot water comes up to a boil. Prepare an ice bath.

  2. Add the eggs and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to an ice bath to chill.

  3. Note: The water can be salted and the beans cooked immediately after the quails eggs.pig tail quails eggs mise 12Preparing the yolks for sieving

  1. Peel the eggs and cut them lengthwise in half. Remove the yolks and pass them through a fine mesh sieve or tamis into a bowl. Stir in the crème fraîche. Add additional crème fraîche if necessary, ¼ tsp at a time, until the yolks are smooth and of a pipeable consistency.

  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Scrape into a small pastry bag fitted with a small star tip. Pipe the yolks into the egg whites and sprinkle with paprika. Refrigerate until time to serve.

For the Beans

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling. Meanwhile, prepare an ice bath.

  2. Blanch the beans in the boiling water for 1 minute. Remove the beans and chill them in an ice bath.

  3. Cut off the ends of the beans and slice them ⅛” thick on a severe diagonal.

  4. To complete: Toss the beans with a light coating of olive oil, minced shallot, and salt and pepper to taste.

For the Frisée Salad

  1. Toss the frisée with a light coating of olive oil, a few drops of vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.

pig tail plating components 13Quails eggs, beans, micro herbs, and Sauce Ravigote ready for plating

To Serve

  1. Spread a spoonful of ravigote sauce on each serving plate. Top with a small stack of the romano beans and place the tail on the beans. Sprinkle the pig’s tails with sel gris. Mound the frisee on the tails. Add two egg halves to each plate.

Pig tails 1

1 Comment

  • Bow says:

    When I grew up in Saskatchewan, autumn was harvest time. That also included the slaughter of the pigs…unlike Europeans and some Asians we shot them(more merciful). I am impressed that you actually had the time to do this; I bet it tasted great ! Looks terrific. I’m also a fan of pig’s ears:
    http://ruhlman.com/2011/09/how-to-cook-pig-ears/

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