Crispy Pig Ears

Crispy pig ears, I know. Who the heck makes crispy pig ears? This dude does, that’s who. I forgot when and where I had these but were they ever awesome. They actually reminded me of a really good slimmed down chicharron. Crunchy, funky, and delicious. I tend to always look at this type of stuff when I shop at my local Mexican grocery store. They have everything, and granted there are some items that are not pleasing to the eye and I shun away from them rather quickly, there are others that really grab my attention. In particular these pig ears, and hopefully in the future, a cow or pig’s head. Who knows what I might make of those. Maybe some Filipino sisig, or maybe just braised and roasted to start digging into the cheek meat, etc. But these pig ears…. Those little suckers caught my attention and I knew I wanted to try to recreate those crispy, crackling things of beauty for my kids. Yes, my kids.

Crispy Pig Ears Recipe
Crispy Pig Ears Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pig ears (mine came 4 ears to a package)
  • 2 cups of soy sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cooking oil

Start by rinsing off the ears with cold water. Once thoroughly rinsed, add them to a stock pot.

Add enough water to cover, and bring them to a boil, reducing the heat once boiling. Remove any and all of the scum that floats to the top and discard. This is much like cooking down bones for Vietnamese pho or any good stock.

After about 20-30 minutes, pour out the water, and give the ears another rinse, leaving them in the pot. Once rinsed, add the soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, and vinegar. Add enough water to cover the ears, then continue to cook over medium heat for about 2 hours.

How to make crispy pig ears
How to make crispy pig ears

After a couple of hours, pour out the liquid, and remove the pig ears, placing them in a bowl or plate to let cool.

Once cooled, slice them into strips, or chunks if you want. Whatever your desired bite is going to be.  Rub the teaspoon of salt all over them. Once sliced, and cooled, cover them and place them into refrigerator overnight.

The following day, heat enough canola oil on medium heat in a pan. NOTE: These will splatter a bit due to the fat content, so be prepared.

Once the oil is hot, about 350 degrees, pat the pig ears a bit before dropping them in, add the sliced pig ears in batches, and cook each batch until they are crispy.

A bit messy from the splattering, just a heads up.

Once they are crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon and onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Add the sliced ears to a small bowl and season lightly with salt. Repeat.

These pig ears are sticky from the gelatin the ears contain, crispy, and an overall unique experience that my kids (with the exception of one) actually enjoyed. Would I make them again? Probably. But in the future, I will have to hunt down where we had them and go from there. Have you ever cooked crispy pig ears, and if so what were your thoughts?

 

Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches

If there are two things my kids could probably eat everyday it would be ice cream and cake. Go figure, that’s kind of a default with kids I have of their age. They literally ask for ice cream every single day, no joke. My default answers are ‘have I ever said no’, and ”. Yes, an empty response meaning please figure it out kids as I am tired of saying ‘sure, I don’t care’. So while I was in the hospital I was thinking of things I could do to occupy my daughter so that I could try to keep her busy, while at the same time try to reserve energy during those early stages. That’s when I rummaged through the pantry, saw a box of cake mix, and decided that I would come up with some ice cream sandwiches for them to devour.

Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches Recipe
Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches Recipe

These are super easy to make, and are a great ice cream snack to satisfy most any kid.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of Funfetti cake mix
  • 1/3 cup of canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of M&Ms, optional
  • Generous scoops of vanilla ice cream, or your favorite

Start by mixing the cake mix with the M&Ms and oil making it into a nice batter.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Take ice cream scoop sized portions of the batter and lay onto the cookie sheet, leaving a couple of inches in between each scoop.

Place into the preheated oven and cook for about 12 minutes or until they are evenly cooked.

Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches Ingredients
Ice Cream Cake Sandwiches Ingredients

Once the cookies are evenly cooked, remove them from the oven and let them cool on the parchment paper. Once cooled, place into the refrigerator for about 30 minutes or so until they firm up.

Once firmed, remove from the freezer, and get out the ice cream. Take one of the cake cookies and add a scoop or two of ice cream, then top with the other cake cookie. Repeat with remaining ice cream and cookies. I like to wrap mine with a bit of parchment for future use, but trust me these will not last long once they come into sight from one of your kids.

Unwrap and dig in. Cool, refreshing, and fun(fetti) all around. These kept my kids relatively quiet, yet extremely happy, and what parent doesn’t love that! If you are looking for an easy dessert that will please any kid (or adult), give these a try. Hope you enjoy!

Pasta with Peas and Mint

Lately my wife and I had to cut back the mint in our backyard. If you have never grown mint, be careful, especially if you are not planting in a pot. The mint literally will take over your yard, and this year it decided to not only take over its home where we planted many years ago, but it also decided to make its way into our raspberry bushes. As much as we love using mint for a variety of different recipes and teas, we are not a fan of it taking over our yard. That’s when I decided to take some things into my own hands and figured I would take a couple of handfuls of that mint and use it up in a dish I knew my entire family would enjoy. It’s pasta with peas and mint and it’s a good one.

Pasta with Peas and Mint Recipe
Pasta with Peas and Mint Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fettuccine, or your favorite pasta cooked al dente
  • 1 cup of cooked pasta water, reserved
  • 1/2 cup of garlic scapes, blanched, or 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of fresh mint, packed
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt, to taste

Start by heating a large skillet, and on medium heat add the olive oil and butter. Once melted, add the cracked black pepper, blanched garlic scapes, and frozen peas. Add the pasta water, and stir, letting the mixture come to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a medium-low, then add in the cooked pasta. Stir, making sure to coat all of the pasta.

Pasta with Mint and Peas Recipe
Pasta with Mint and Peas Recipe

Once the pasta is coated, add in the fresh mint, giving a good stir and toss, season with a touch of salt, then fold in the parmesan cheese.

Give another stir, then plate and serve. Season with a touch more parmesan cheese, and adjust the taste with any salt.

I was not surprised that my kids devoured this dish. The combination of mint and peas is a match made in heaven, and granted my vegetable hater (age) picked some of those peas out, he was still slurping those noodles, along with the mint. That’s a winner in my book. Hope you enjoy!

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy

As you probably are already aware, I have a few different ethnic cuisines that are my all-time favorites. Mexican, Thai, Indian, and well pretty much anything Asian. That includes Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Filipino. With hope, I pray that my kids who I cook for everyday grown up to realize that when they grow older. I’m not that guy who is serving up the same jive every week, rather I’m the dude who is serving them dishes, family style, from all over the world. I typically always do a take on this particular recipe as my entire family totally loves it, however it goes so fast that you wish you would have quadrupled the recipe or simply told the kids to slow down a bit. It’s that good. It’s Vietnamese caramel chicken, but instead of serving with a side of rice and some thinly sliced cucumbers, I made this into a po boy. I mean it’s the best of both worlds, right?

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the chicken and marinade:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp canola oil

Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup of water

Ingredients for the sandwich:

  • Your favorite baguette
  • mayonnaise, optional
  • cherry or roma tomatoes, optional
  • head lettuce, thinly chopped
  • fresh cilantro, chopped, optional
  • 1 jalapeno, thinly sliced, optional

Sounds like a lot, but it’s really not as the ingredients for the marinade and sauce are essentially the same.

Start by combining all of your chicken and marinade ingredients into a mixing bowl or sealable plastic bag, and let this marinade for a at least a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Take the chicken out and have it come close to room temperature before you are ready to cook.

During this time, mix the sauce ingredients, and if you want, go ahead and prepare your sandwich ingredients. NOTE: The chicken cooks quickly, very quickly.

Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe
Vietnamese Caramel Chicken Po Boy Recipe

Get a large skillet out and heat it to medium-high heat. Let it heat up for a minute or two then add in the chicken. Don’t mess with the chicken. Let it do its thing for a couple of minutes, then start stirring it around. Cook the chicken for about 7 minutes, then turn on your kitchen vent and add in the sauce. Stir, coating the chicken and cook quickly. The sauce will thicken and get nice and sticky. Once that happens, remove the skillet from the heat.

Whatever you do, don’t start eating the chicken yet. It’s so darn addictive that you may end up not having enough to make a sandwich!

Now it’s time to make the sandwich. Lather both sides of your sandwich with mayonnaise. to the bottom, add the shredded lettuce and tomatoes. Top with a bunch of the caramelized chicken, then top with cilantro and jalapenos. Almost a banh mi style without the pickled elements. Fold, push down on the sandwich, and open wide.

This sandwich is awesome. Sticky chicken packed with great Asian flavors really knocks this one out of the park. Hope you enjoy!