Ears, Rinds, and Tails

Oreilles, Couennes, et Queues

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Servings:


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

Some 10 years ago, after a long and arduous day of tasting in the vineyards of Beaujolais country, having returned to Lyons late in the evening, a hungry handful of our group left the others to their beds and unearthed a bistro called La Queue de Cochon. I have never returned, self-inflicted duty having led me, on subsequent trips, to new experiences among the array of celebrated restaurants in the star-studded Lyonnaise region. But neither have I ever so enjoyed a meal in that region—if it could be called a meal—as I did the huge platter of boiled ears, rinds, and tails that was served us in an atmosphere of a kind that is already anachronistic in a fast-changing world; the bar was small—an old-fashioned carved wooden affair—and three colorful ladies stood, each with a glass of Beaujolais in hand, awaiting, perhaps not too hopefully, the evening’s client; the dining room, too, was small, the floor scattered with sawdust, the lighting rather dull with only the brass rails gleaming and, at the marble-topped tables, all the clients were eating ears, tails, and rolled-up rinds and drinking the house Beaujolais. The Beaujolais was six months old, light and cool—a green and ravishing explosion of fruit. I no longer remember how many bottles passed that evening . . .

Any pork destined to be boiled will be better if salted down with a sprinkling of herbs for a couple of days first.

Served ungarnished as a first course or, as a main course, accompanied by boiled potatoes (which may be scrubbed and thrown, un-peeled, into the pot with the meats a ½ hour before removing them from the heat), a ravigote (vinaigrette to which has been added finely chopped onion, chopped fines-herbes, and capers) or a gribiche sauce will be appreciated (or each guest may fabricate a sauce to taste from a table laden with dishes of chopped onion, peeled hard-boiled eggs, capers, fines-herbes, gherkins, mustard, horseradish, vinegar, and olive oil). Gribiche (3 hard-boiled egg yolks still tepid, salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon mustard, 1 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon vinegar) is supposed to mount like a mayonnaise but rarely does and is none the worse for it—some people add a raw egg yolk to the cooked yolks to ensure its mounting; sour gherkins, capers, fines-herbes, and the egg whites, all chopped, are stirred into the emulsion. Accompanied by lentils, cooked apart, imperfectly drained and tossed with butter and chopped parsley, sauce is impertinent. Snout may be added to the ears, rinds, and tails.


  • 4 pigs’ tails
  • 2 pigs’ ears
  • 4 strips of rind (about 2½ by 8 or 9 inches each)
  • Coarse salt and mixed dried herbs for salting down
  • 8 to 10 ounces peeled carrots
  • Large bouquet garni: thyme, bay leaf, branch celery, parsley plus parsley root, if possible, leek greens, branch of lovage (if available)
  • 1 large onion stuck with 2 cloves
  • Salt (if necessary)


Pack the meats into a terrine or large mixing bowl, the layers generously sprinkled with coarse salt and lightly but evenly sprinkled with dried herbs and leave, covered, in a cool place, or, lacking that, refrigerated, for a couple of days. Discard the liquid, rinse the meats, cover well with cold water, bring to a boil, and simmer for about 10 minutes (or until the rind is supple enough to be rolled and tied). Drain and rinse.

Roll the strips of rind up tightly and tie a string around each. Cover the meats again with a large amount of cold water, bring to a boil, add the carrots, the bouquet, and the onion stuck with cloves, skim, and regulate the heat to keep the liquid, the pot covered, at a bare simmer. After 1 hour’s time taste the cooking liquid for salt. Count about 1¼ to 2½ hours, testing for tenderness. When serving, split the ears in two—or cut them into narrow strips (there is little to them but cartilage—therein lies their deliciously crunchy, but sufficiently tender, goodness).