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Neil Forbes’s Smoked Ear

Neil Forbes’s Smoked Ear

A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Beyond the Books

No time to be lost; people on the docks might know where the Anemone was headed next.  He turned and took a step toward the door.  Then a red wave washed through him and he whirled back, smashing his fist into Forbes’s face with the full weight of his body behind it. 

The lawyer gave a high-pitched scream, and clutched both hands to his nose.  All noises in the inn and in the street seemed to stop; the world hung suspended.  Roger took a short, deep breath, rubbing his knuckles, and nodded once more.

“Come on,” he said to Ian.

“Oh, aye.”

Roger was halfway to the door when he realized that Ian was not with him.  He looked back, and was just in time to see his cousin-by-marriage take Forbes gently by one ear and cut it off.

Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 103 – Put to the Question)

“When ye set about a difficult quest — if ye’re Kahnyen’kehaka, I mean — ye generally go aside for a time, to fast and pray for guidance.  We havena time to be doing that now, of course.  But often, while ye’re doing that, ye choose a talisman — or to be right about it, it chooses you –”  He sounded completely matter-of-fact about this procedure, Roger noted.

“And ye carry it with ye through the quest, to keep the attention of the spirits upon your desire and ensure your success.”

“I see.”  Jamie rubbed the bridge of his nose.  He appeared — like Roger — to be wondering what the Mohawk spirits might make of Neil Forbes’s ear.  It would, probably, ensure their attention, at least.  “The ear…did ye pack it in salt, I hope?”

Ian shook his head.

“Nay, I smoked it over the kitchen fire at the inn last night.  Dinna fash yourself, Uncle Jamie; it will keep.”

Diana Gabaldon, A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Chapter 105 – The Prodigal)

smoked ear

Three fine Scots men, and an EAR, all on their way.

Things are looking up for Bree, kidnapped and passed on to Stephen Bonnet and his little ship of horrors.

I mean, an extra appendage here and there certainly isn’t going to hurt the hunt, now is it?


By now, you’ve probably figured out that this particular EAR is from a pig – but what you don’t know yet is that I’m smoking this EAR, not as a talisman, but to eat it.

I wouldn’t go to all this trouble just so the dog could eat bits of braised, smoked and charred pig’s EAR after walks.

Cause that would be a little over the top.

smoked ear salad

Do you really want to know how I did this?

Simmer the pigs EARs in a mixture of 3 parts chicken stock, 1 part soya sauce, 1 part water and a half part sherry (enough liquid to cover) for 2 to 3 hours, or until the skin is easily pierced with a fork.  I added 1 green onion, the chopped up stalks of 1 fennel bulb, a couple of cloves of garlic, 2 chilis, 1/4 of a lemon and 1 star anise to the liquid and the EARs — I suggest that you add whatever inspires you when you open the fridge/pantry – a truly tasty pig’s EAR requires spontaneity.

Drain the EARs and then smoke them.  I smoked one over the open fire here for the picture, but I also popped them all into our smoker for an hour to develop serious flavour.

And, FINALLY, I charred the skin in a searing-hot cast-iron pan, using my finger tips to hold the EAR down, ensuring an evenly blackened surface (on both sides).

I served the EAR, sliced on the bias, atop of a salad of early season greens from the garden.

Would I do it again?  Probably not — that’s a lot of effort to go to for what is, essentially, a little bit of meat sandwiched between skin and cartilage.

You gotta love texture to eat a lot of EAR.

Good things dogs love texture.

And if you’re still wondering what I’m doing smoking and eating an ear…go look at the date of this post. 🙂


  1. OutlanderFan
    April 1, 2012 at 6:44 am

    I’m amazed at how creatively you connect recipes to the story, you are truly talented! I can’t say that I’ll be trying this one, but I enjoyed reading it ☺

    • Theresa
      April 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

      Awww…come on Outlander Fan! Live a little…lol

  2. Mary
    April 1, 2012 at 7:21 am

    Ummmm, where did you acquire the ears???

    • Theresa
      April 1, 2012 at 7:50 am

      Ears are pretty easy to come by, Mary! An Asian supermarket is a good source…as would be a good, old-fashioned butcher.

  3. Michelle Bennetts Heumann
    April 1, 2012 at 7:46 am

    Is that a celebratory meal in honour of _today_? 🙂

    • Theresa
      April 1, 2012 at 7:51 am

      April Fools, indeed! 😀

  4. lionartcreation
    April 1, 2012 at 7:46 am

    I’m sure Koda would appreciate the effort! What about smoking an ear of corn??? Would that work? The pig ear freaks me out a tad…I know, I prob wouldn’t last a day at Lallybroch! 😀

    • Theresa
      April 1, 2012 at 7:50 am

      I love the ear of corn idea, LeeAnn! Smoked corn is verra yummy. Theresa

  5. aaron
    April 1, 2012 at 7:58 am

    It looks more appetizing than any ear I have ever seen!

    • Theresa
      April 3, 2012 at 9:23 am

      Well that’s something, Aaron! Thanks. 🙂

  6. dearli13
    April 1, 2012 at 8:20 am

    This is so funny! Not sure I would make it either, but it would be perfect for an April Fool’s prank! Another brilliant recipe taken straight from my favorite books! Thank you Outlander Kitchen!!!
    When does the cookbook come out?

    • Theresa
      April 3, 2012 at 9:24 am

      The cookbook question is an excellent one, Dearli…I’m working on it…anyone know an agent? lol

  7. mrs graham
    April 1, 2012 at 8:50 am

    i was worried for a sec, but now i get it! a whole lotta work, just to get back at lawyer forbes by eating his ear!!

    • Theresa
      April 3, 2012 at 9:23 am

      April Fools is never too much work, Evi! 🙂

  8. deniz
    April 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

    What a fun idea! I keep thinking of the poor guy, missing his ear… even though he wasn’t very nice, and it actually is a pig ear… maybe Rollo should eat it!

    • Theresa
      April 3, 2012 at 9:22 am

      Thanks, Deniz!

  9. bullrem
    April 2, 2012 at 7:06 am

    April Fool’s or not, this is one of your recipes I will NOT be trying, even as adventurous as I am in the kitchen…… LOL
    Helen in Ark.

    • Theresa
      April 3, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Glad you got the joke, Helen! A few didn’t. I’m afraid they thought I had gone over the deep end…

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