“LET ME TELL A CRISPY PIG TALE”
The past week has been a hoot here at the Tavern with a 200 lb Acorn Fed Tamworth delivered from the SVF Foundation. With every part of this beautiful creature to utilize, our sous chef Zach and I lived, breathed, ate and dreamed our own Charlottes Web story of a menu and “WOW he was SOME PIG!” We produced beautiful headcheese, rillettes, county pate, braised belly, sweet and salt chicarrones and even cured the jowls into a bacon called guanciale. All of this was great but the one thing that brightened the week was cooking the pig tail for one of my Guatemalan dishwashers.
Juan Carlos has been with me for about 6 months and is particular to chicken fingers and a hamburger on a regular basis. I had my charcuterie prep complete and noticed that I didn’t use the tail. I grabbed it an brought it over to Juan, expecting him to shake his head no, when he explained to me with a smile (in Spanish, of course), that the tail and ears are the part of the animal that they give to the guest of honor at their pig roasts. Every person hopes to be the person to eat those, he said, then turned around and went back to working his tail off for me.
As I was walking away, I felt compelled to surprise him with my own version of the tail. I dredged the tail in seasoned flour mixture then fried it crispy and golden, but still tender and gelatinous on the inside. As the tail was cooking I sautéed a little chopped garlic, tossed in tomatoes, red onion, provencal olives, and fresh herbs. Once hot I plated the crispy tail, topped it with the warm relish, drizzled it with some French Green extra virgin olive oil, 12 year balsamic, and a showering of young pea greens.
I brought it over to Juan and initially he looked stunned and realized that it was the pigs tail we just spoke about, he smiled and immediately went to town devouring the tail, leaving no joint or piece of cartilage untouched, stopping only to say “Muy Bueno Heffe” (Very Good Boss) and saying his only complaint was that there wasn’t more. The life of a chef can sometimes consist of a multitude of thanks and praises from our guests and peers, which means the world and is very gratifying, but the pride of making someone who works so hard for you to feel close to home is priceless (even though the preparation was very French).
Chef Rich Silvia