In a world obsessed with all things pork, there are still a few pig parts that go largely underused: feet, tail and ears. At The Purple Pig in Chicago, Jimmy Bannos, Jr., is shining the spotlight on pigs’ ears, and even the least likely of eaters are crunching them down.
“When I was testing everything out for the menu for The Purple Pig, I knew I wanted to make pig’s ears,” Bannos says. “I didn’t want it as a garnish—I wanted it to be the heart of the plate.” Thinly sliced, breaded and fried to a crisp, the crispy pigs’ ear slivers are served with fried kale, pickled cherry peppers and a fried egg. “When we first opened, a 65-year-old businesswoman walked in and without hesitating ordered the bowl of pigs’ ears and was just chilling like, this is the best thing ever. Now we sell hundreds of orders a week. I have a lot of pride that it worked.”