How to Make Stephanie Izard’s Legendary Pig’s Face Breakfast Plate
Good news: Pig’s actual face not required
Stephanie Izard has taken the restaurant scene of her native Chicago by storm ever since being named the first female winner of Bravo’s Top Chef in 2008. Though she now has four restaurants, it’s at her original Girl & the Goat that Izard’s creativity shines brightest, thanks to an assortment of jazzed-up comfort foods accented with flavors from across the globe: smoked fish queso fresco, whole branzino with Thai sweet and sour sauce, or the restaurant’s namesake goat empanadas with miso-blue cheese aioli. (Holy umami-bomb, Batman!)
The best-seller, though, is perhaps her most creative — and most surprising — offering: a wood-fired, oven-roasted pig’s face.
“I think people think it’s funny or adventurous to order the pig’s face when they see it on the menu,” she says of the dish, which she’s been serving since day one. “But then they actually try it and see that the layers of textures and flavors make a delicious, comforting dish.”
The recipe was born of Izard’s commitment to whole-animal cooking, which not only prevents waste but often results in more flavorful dishes, due to the depth residing in these cheaper, long-maligned cuts.
“Slagel Farms, a local purveyor, sells pork to restaurants all over the city and had a surplus of pig heads,” recalls Izard. “One of our sous chefs found an old, Italian method of boiling the heads to get the meat off the bone. We tried it and loved it.”
Of course, we’re not suggesting that you acquire, roast, and carve an actual pig’s head in an apartment kitchen (perhaps a slightly intense process for most home cooks). Instead, Izard here shares a way to recreate the spirit of the dish, pairing a rich pork sausage patty with the symphony of sweet, savory, sour and spicy flavors that have contributed to making the pig’s head — dare we say, the GOAT.
Stephanie Izard’s “Pig’s Face” Breakfast Plate
For the cilantro oil:
- 1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
For the tamarind vinaigrette:
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ bulb black garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate
- 1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1½ teaspoons soy sauce
- ½ teaspoons Sambal Oelek
- ⅓ cup canola oil
- Kosher salt
For the spiced maple gastrique:
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- ⅔ cup red wine vinegar
- 1 dried Thai chili (or ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes)
- 1 pound pork breakfast sausage, casings removed
- Cooking oil, such as canola or vegetable oil
- 1 cup shoestring potato sticks, store-bought or homemade (recipe to follow)
- 4 large eggs
- Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
First, make the cilantro oil: Add the cilantro and ½ teaspoon salt to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until broken down. Reduce the speed to low and, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture is emulsified and smooth. Set aside until ready to serve.
For the tamarind vinaigrette, clean out the bowl of the blender and add the egg yolk, black garlic, vinegar, tamarind concentrate, Dijon, soy sauce and Sambal. Blend on medium speed. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil to emulsify. If necessary, add in a few drops of water until the vinaigrette reaches desired drizzle-able consistency. Season to taste with salt and set aside until ready to serve.
Make the spiced maple gastrique by combining the maple syrup, vinegar and Thai chili in a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has reduced by about half and has a thick, syrupy consistency.
Divide the sausage into eight equal-sized balls and form into patties about ½-inch thick. Coat a large skillet or griddle with a splash of cooking oil and heat over high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully add the sausage patties to the pan (working in batches if necessary), watching out for splatter. Cook until nicely browned and caramelized on both sides, about three to five minutes per side. Carefully remove the patties to a plate to rest. Do not wipe out the skillet.
Reduce the heat to low and crack two eggs into the skillet used to cook the sausage. Let cook, undisturbed, until the whites are set but the yolks are still runny, about three to four minutes. Transfer to a clean plate and repeat with remaining eggs.
If desired, transfer the cilantro oil, vinaigrette, and gastrique into separate resealable plastic bags, which can be used like squeeze bottles by snipping off the bottom corners with scissors (otherwise, use a spoon). Drizzle each serving plate with oil and vinaigrette.
Top each plate with one sausage patty. Sprinkle each patty with a quarter of the fried potato sticks followed by a drizzle of the gastrique. Top with another sausage patty and finish with one of the sunny side up eggs. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and dig in!
For fried potato sticks:
- 2 Russet or other baking potatoes
- Kosher salt
- Canola oil, for frying
- Wash and peel the potatoes. Using a mandoline fitted with the julienne blade, slice the potatoes into very thin matchsticks. Transfer to a bowl of ice water for at least 20 minutes to remove the excess starch.
Meanwhile, add about three inches of canola oil to a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees.
Dry the potatoes well and carefully add to the hot oil, about a cup at a time. Fry until golden brown on all sides, about two to three minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer fried potato sticks to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, and season with a pinch of kosher salt. Repeat with remaining potatoes.
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