I like pig snouts and I cannot lie. I actually dig an awful lot of offal and have gotten into the habit of cooking it for guests, especially at the holidays. (We all have our things.) Pig ears and chicken hearts are eternally on the menu, I've dabbled in duck tongues, made plenty of head cheese, and I've never met a liver I didn't love—but cooking pig snouts was a new one on me. Wandering the aisles during a recent stock-up at the massive Fei Long Market in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, I nabbed my usual staples, but kept being drawn back to the corner where the snouts hung out. I just couldn't help myself. Into my cart they went, but without much of a plan about how I was going to deploy them.
A snout is a brilliant thing when it's crisped, but I didn't quite feel like frying. It's also a perfect base for a pot of soup, beans, or greens, but I was more in the mood for a snack than a big old batch of something. So how about a terrine? The fat and cartilage of pig snout would bring just the right wiggle, and I'd been craving red-cooked pork ever since catching a whiff as I walked past the food court on the way out. A meld of the two seemed like just the ticket.
I opted for a double-dark Chinese soy sauce and augmented the usual star anise with crunchy fennel seeds for more texture, then pressure cooked the snouts down to a thick, sticky, gorgeous mess that cooled into a sweet, savory, meaty jelly that my friends spread on crackers, Doritos, and hunks of aged cheese, and I just stabbed into with a fork. I'd say we pigged out, but that might be a little too much on the nose. (I'll be here all week, try the pig snout jelly.)
Note: You may have to shave the pig snouts. The pig snouts feel unnervingly like human flesh. Just try to get past that as best you can, and for the love of all that is holy, use a fresh blade or disposable razor.
Pig Snout Jelly
Photo by Kat Kinsman
3-4 raw pig snouts
½ cup rice wine
6 tablespoons soy sauce, preferably dark or double-dark
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
2 star anise (optional)
1-2 cinnamon sticks
How to Make It
Place pig snouts in a sauce pan or the Instant Pot using the saute function, cover with water and bring to a rapid boil. Skim foam and random gunk off the top of the water, lower the heat and simmer for an additional 20 minutes, skimming as needed. Remove the snouts and run them under cold water to cool.
When the snouts have cooled enough to handle them, shave any hair from them using a standard face or leg razor with a new blade. Tweezers may also be deployed in folds and recessed areas.
Once the snouts have been properly depilated, place then in the Instant Pot. Stir together rice wine, soy sauce, and sugar until the sugar dissolves and pour it over the snouts. Add fennel seeds, star anise (if using), and cinnamon sticks to the pot. Seal, close the release valve, and press the soup/stew setting.
When the cycle has completed, do a manual release of the Instant Pot. The snouts should be very tender and break down easily when stirred. Thicken the mixture a little more by stirring over residual heat, and using the saute function as needed. When the mixture is very thick and sticky, discard the cinnamon sticks and star anise and spoon the remainder into a glass, plastic, or metal container that can act as a mold. Let the mixture come down to room temperature, then cover tightly and chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, or until it solidifies into a meaty jelly.
To serve, unmold the pig snout jelly onto a plate, running warm water over the closed container and a knife around the edges if necessary. Serve with crackers and, ideally, Doritos.
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