Barbecued Pig's Ears - A Bulgarian Treat

Having not had pig’s ears for nearly two years it was more than a pleasant surprise to end up with this delicacy on the dinner table this evening.

Having been in both the villages of Skalitsa and Hanovo grape picking for two days, I returned to Yambol with a Lada crammed full of the wine producing crops, which were dragged out and then turned into a big plastic barrel.

After treading them for a while as I looked up I could see the house windows were all steamed up. It was not very warm today and this was a mystery as usually this only happens in the winter. It was in the house that the reason for this was discovered; the bottled gas stove had a pot that was bubbling away with pig’s ears. Galia having not seen me for two days she thought it would be could to surprise me with one of my favourite dishes, barbecued pigs ears!

The last time I had these was during December 2006 at a pig slaughtering even in the village, but during that time the pig’s ears were not boiled beforehand, they were just cut of the pig and immediately grilled on the fire that was heating a big pot of cabbage stew. Barbecued pig’s ears are then normally served with warm Rakia to the butchers working on the owner of the ear’s carcass. The whole experience was unforgettable, but to get an opportunity to try this particular recipe would normally have to wait for winter again and another pig slaughter day.

The pig’s ears were boiling away as Galia asked me to get the barbecue ready, it was now raining but that had never stopped the opportunity for a barbecue before as it was set up under a big green fishing umbrella, under which we often find Baba sitting passing the day under away from the normal hot sun. It was mentioned that the option to boil the ears is not always taken up by Bulgarian but this is what they do in this household.

All was set up as the ears were drained off, sliced up into strips and laid on the barbecue to sizzle away. Salted, turned and browned on all sides the end result was a meal that would be the most popular part of the meze on the table. The plate which was most frequented with Bulgarian forks was the pig’s ears.

The talk was about how cheap the pig’s ears were compared to eating them in the restaurant, the cost was around 2.20 leva (under £1) per kilogram. In restaurants they would charge over three leva for a couple of pieces and wouldn’t be the same as the homemade version.

It was a very happy Bulgarian family that sat here enjoying this out of season meal, especially so knowing that they had also made the Englishman even more happy to return from his solo grape hunting weekend.