Be it an economic crisis or an unfortunate turn of personal luck, times of financial hardship are often felt most at the supermarket. Forlorn and dejected, we look past the good olive oil and prime rib and instead towards the rice and economy cheese. But desperate times needn’t call for such desperate measures. Across Britain, people are discovering pig offal as a prime opportunity to enjoy delicious pork without breaking the bank.
The rise of pig offal is particularly evident in the use off-cuts by Great British Chefs, both on television and in restaurants, with ingredients like pig cheeks and trotters showing up on menus throughout the country.
Some chefs like Fergus Henderson of St. John Restaurant – where crispy pig’s tail is a specialty – have made a name for themselves by putting pig offal high on their menus’ agendas. Of course, the cost of dining at a restaurant like St. John mostly defeats the purpose of austerity, but it does offer inspiration for cooking with pig offal at home.
Indeed, we can look to great British chefs to learn how cuts like pig ears, tails, trotters, livers and kidneys can be extraordinarily rewarding to cook with, not only because they’re cheaper, but also because then can taste spectacular when cooked properly.
Pig liver with its strong rich flavour can be turned into wonderful pates and terrines. Pig kidneys, an essential element of steak and kidney pie, are also excellent when grilled or fried. Pig ears are delicious when battered and fried. Pig trotters too are gaining popularity, particularly as a gelatine. You’ll even find Michelin star chefs serving deboned trotters, stuffed and braised into gorgeous gelatinous dishes.
Pig offal is also giving great British chefs an opportunity to bring back some traditional British recipes. A few examples include brawn, a type of terrine made from the pig’s head; chitterlings, cooked pig’s intestines; and faggots, made with the liver, lung and spleen and wrapped in fat.
Whether you slice it, stuff it, fry it or braise it, pig offal presents a fantastic opportunity to eat well while also eating austerely. It also offers the delightful challenge of trying something new in the kitchen.