Monday, October 24, 2011

Grilled Pig Tails

My, oh my! Mamma never told me about this!
I’ve got lots of thoughts running around in my head after this weekend and it’s hard to not just blurt them all out in one giant train of random pig thought.
My first thought is a big thanks to two other bloggers whose posts on pig tails got me to realize that I could use these for something besides making stock. The problem is I can’t find the danged posts to reference!!! I’ll keep looking. If it was you let me know and I’ll post the link.
Next up is a paraphrase of a co-worker who shared her thoughts with me about turkey necks. “They sure are good but I won’t eat them around people I don’t know real well.” First off these look like peckers. No way around it, might as well say it. I put them out on a baking sheet and asked my boy what he thought he was looking at and he busted out laughing. Once you get over how they initially look the whole issue of eating them comes up. Like a turkey neck, you have to get in there and chew and suck. It is a messy process that, when combined with the fore mentioned attribute of the tail, means this really isn’t a dish to share with folks who don’t have a sense of humor.
These guys were delicious. The best description I could think of was a cross between pulled pork and bacon. There was substantially more meat on the tails than on any pig foot I have ever encountered. The aroma was spectacular; I sat on my patio the next morning and could still smell the essence of these guys coming from my grill. I was surprised by how rich the tails are; I ate four of them and it was all I could handle in one sitting. My arteries were screaming for mercy. My only disappointment was the skin. I had hoped the skin would get crispy in a pork cracklin kind of way. Instead it got tough and chewy; more rawhide than crackiln. That’s okay, my dogs love me even more at this point. I had tried to crisp them up by finishing them directly over the charcoal but the resulting inferno from the copious amounts of dripping pork fat made this impractical.
The cook was pretty straightforward. The tails got a Creole mustard slather follow by a solid coating of Stubb’s barbecue rub. I like the Stubb’s product; it has a nice profile with some high quality paprika. Next time (and there will be a next time) I will use plain yellow mustard for the slather. The Creole mustard really didn’t coat the pig tails that well. It probably doesn’t make any difference but I am still going to switch it up. I cooked them indirect for an hour at about 275F and decided that if I wanted them to get done any time soon that I would need to crank the temperature up quite a bit. I took the grill to about 350F and let them cook for another three hours.  I will probably also use a different dry rub...Stubbs is good but I like to keep trying new things.
After four hours on the grill them smelled so good I was jumping out of my skin. I pulled them off, took a few pictures and dove in. The tails had the fattiness of a pork butt and the meat was somewhat less than a turkey neck. There are a lot of little bones in the tail and you just have to get in there and work that meat out. The closest I can come to describing the experience of eating a pig tail is to imagine eating a turkey neck wrapped in bacon. Hey..that’s not a bad idea!
I hope you enjoy the video. If you have any suggestions on how to improve the skin I would love to hear them.

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