Grilled pork ear or oreja a la plancha is a very simple recipe that consists of grilling pig’s ears with garlic and parsley. You can also marinate them with wine and pimentón —Spanish smoked paprika— if you like.
It is not the first time offal recipes make a starring appearance at School of Tapas and may not be the last one. In fact, offal has such an important presence in our cuisine that one can not avert it. Therefore, it is now the turn of the crunchy cartilage and gelatinous skin of pig’s ear to show up.
In Spain there are many ways to prepare the pig’s ears. The most traditional, simple and common way to cook them is this recipe. However, they can also be found stewed with legumes, marinated, deep-fried or even roasted. Recently great Spanish chefs have also begun to innovate pig’s ear dishes with new recipes.
You can enjoy this luscious grilled pork ear almost anywhere in Spain, but it is important to notice that there are two ways to prepare it: grilled with finely chopped garlic and parsley —also known as oreja al ajillo— or marinated with Spanish smoked paprika, garlic, black pepper, parsley and olive oil before being griddled.
In any case, the ear needs to be boiled first in order to tenderize it before grilling it… Do try both methods and find out your favorite!
We must admit that this recipe, like many others made with offal, has many admirers, but also many detractors. We advise you to try it yourself and choose on which side you’re on.
- 2 pig's ears, cleaned
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 1 whole head of garlic halved
- 1 sprig of parsley
- 6 black peppercorns
- Salt to taste
- 2 pig's ears, boiled
- Olive oil
- 1 heaped tablespoon garlic, finely minced
- Pimentón to taste (optional)
- 2 tablespoons parsley, finely minced
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Put the ears, the onion, the garlic, the parsley and the peppercorns in a casserole, you can also use a pressure cooker. Cover with enough water, add salt to taste and cook over medium heat for 2-3 hours or until tender. A fork should easily pierce through the skin.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool, meanwhile prepare the grilling ingredients.
- Cut pork ears into strips and then into squares (1x1 inches)
- Heat a griddle or a skillet and drizzle some olive oil. Sauté the pig's ears stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, or if you are an expert with skillets, flip the skillet like a real cook.
- When the ear starts to get golden brown add the minced garlic, toss and let it fry a little.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and finally add the parsley. Turn off the heat and serve the grilled pork ear garnished with lemon wedges and minced parsley.
Tips for a perfect grilled pork ear tapa or oreja a la plancha:
- You can cook the pork ears in a pressure cooker as we mentioned before. Just follow the manufacturer instructions of your cooker. The time may vary depending on the pressure cooker and may take from 30 to 45 minutes to be cooked.
- The garlic germ (inner sprout) tends to be bitter so that we recommend you to remove it before you mince it finely.
- If you want to make the marinated version, mix the garlic, the parsley, 125 ml of dry white wine, pimentón to taste and also a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the mixture to the boiled ears and let them marinate for at least eight hours before grilling. You can also pound the ingredients in a mortar and add some water to make it runnier.
- Serve this delectable tapa along with a Spanish omelet, marinated cod sticks (Pavías de bacalao) or our refreshing Spanish country salad.
How to clean a pig’s ear:
The ears usually come quite clean, but it will always be necessary to carry out the last cleaning. Put a pot with plenty of water to heat. Clean the ears with a brush to remove any unwanted skin particles, then singe the fine hairs that may still have with a kitchen blowtorch. Blanch the ears for five minutes and take them out of the pot. Submerge the blanched ears in an ice bath for five minutes and, finally, remove them from the ice bath. You can proceed with the recipe now.
Lastly, if you like you can drizzle few drops of lemon juice to enjoy this crispy and delicious grilled pork ear, and bring some bread and, of course, a very chilly glass of beer to your table.