My tails have been in the fridge for two nights, and I'm ready for a taste. Because I saved the stock I cooked the tails in I've also decided to make collards, using my pork stock as the cooking liquid. I have a really good feeling about these greens. I've also got some sour cream in my fridge (leftover from making my Omi's cucumber salad
earlier this week) so I'm also making a sour cream based corn bread, with kernels of corn I froze earlier this summer from a particularly good batch of sweet corn from the farmers market.
A problem Mum and I have had with her recipe is that it often burns in the high heat needed to crisp the tails. I do not want to sacrifice the crisp, so I've got to keep the heat high, but this time I'm putting the tails on a oiled rack. Hopefully keeping them elevated will stop the burn issue.
Tails on a oiled rack.
I've heated my oven to 400 degree's, which is higher than the temp the original recipe cooks them at. I'm hoping that the rack will stop them from burning. The heat is cranked to achieve the desired crispness.
After about 30 minutes (basting them with reserved marinade/glaze every 10 or so minutes) the less fatty parts of the tail are exactly where I want them to be. However the fatty portions of the tail, mostly the thicker parts, and end pieces still need a few minutes.
Fresh out of the oven.
Those fattier pieces go back in the oven, and although the pieces that are ready are still extremely hot I can't resist a taste. They're excellent, the sauce I made has charred in a few places because of the sugar, but has also made the fatty bits of skin crisp and delightful. The meat easily pulls away from the bone; no wonder after an hour boil and another half hour in a 400 degree oven. The meat, surprisingly, is not dry. The fat has dribbled throughout the meat, maintaining both it's texture and taste.
As for the sauce, it's a pretty decent, but standard BBQ sauce. The smoked paprika has really come through, giving these tails more dynamic than I thought they would have,
What's left of dinner.
The collard greens were as good as I thought they would be, in fact they're probably as good as the pig tails. The pork stock gave them a roundness that can only be found in a homemade stock where gelatin has been extracted out of the bones. Although this is just a quick stock, and did not have the real gelatinous nature of a long simmered stock the collards took on many of the desired qualities. Simmering the collards in the stock for the better part of an hour (adding more stock as they went dry) both reduced the stock and gave its flavors a chance to really permeate the greens. If making pig tail this way I strongly recommend saving the tail stock for collards.
This experiment has given me a great starting point for the next time I make pig tails. The important things to remember are: elevate the tails off the pan while baking, use a good smoked paprika and keep the tail stock for a side of collards.