If you've never had the chance or been brave enough to try Campbell's pig ears, you might be surprised to learn that the texture is somewhere between a crunchy chicharrón and a piece of sticky, pork flavored candy. It hasn't been scientifically proven, but we're willing to bet that the dish's perfect sticky/crunchy texture accounts for 50 percent of the reason this dish is so addicting.
Campbell achieves this unique texture by double frying each pig ear. The initial pre-fry takes the ears to a "lightly crispy and brown" state. At this point they're also easier to cut into thick strips.
After the second dip in the fryer the ears emerge fully cooked and crunchy on the exterior.
"We totally eyeball it every time," the chef says when asked about specifics.
It's the second fry that allows the outside layer of skin to separate from the inner layer of cartilage, creating a beautiful juxtaposition between the crunchy outside and soft, chewy interior.
Just before sending the dish out to the table Campbell adds a mixture of balsamic, sugar, salt, and Frenso chile. Heating the liquid and then adding the chiles gives them a quick pickle, keeping them crispy and adding even more stickiness to the final dish.
He spoons the chiles over the ears and adds a sprinkle of minced chives and...voila.