In the past I had just put the pig head
directly in the oven as soon as I got it home, but I had watched a
documentary on making head cheese and the lady there seemed positive
that it had to have its ears cleaned, be drained of blood, eyeballs cut
out and nose washed before it could be used. That seemed a little
excessive on the cleanliness side to me, and as I had used it
previously as is with no complaint, I just decided to rinse it free
of blood first before putting it in the oven.
a half a pig head is
awkward, so to rinse it I just cut a big hole in the top of the plastic
bag it came in and filled it up with
water from an outside tap/spigot.. It turned out here were a couple
small pinholes in the bag that I didn't know about, but they were
fortuitous because they allowed the water to drain out without any
further action on my part.
of the pig head
and instructions on roasting it are on a previous page (about making a Pork Pie)
out of it. This page will take up where making it into a head
cheese (like a lunch meat -- probably most lunch meat is made with
these off pieces) begins.
Conserving Energy Simmering
I cook the head by putting it in the oven, turning it on medium for a
while and then turning off the oven without opening the door. That lets
it use the residual heat to continue cooking. When it cools off, I open
the door, take out the roast and pour off the fat. I chop it into large
chunks as I go along, so it is easier to handle and release
fat. After that, I return it to the oven to continue cooking as much as
I deem suitable. When it seems it has cooked enough by roasting, I
transfer it to big pot of water and simmer on the stove to finish
cooking and tenderizing the meat and rendering the lard.
We Interupt Making Head
Cheese For An Unexpected Challenge
after I finished the first
round of dry cooking in the oven and pulled it to cut meat and pour
fat, I found a small globby meat thing attached to it and fully cooked.
It was a piece of brain. I put it in a jar with some fat and put it
into the freezer while I contemplate what to do with it. I have never
eater brain before, but I understand the Italians have a dish made of
cow brains. I think selling brain is illegal in the U.S. I don't know
its legal status here in the UK, but this may be the only chance I ever
have to prepare a meal with pig brains.
I looked it up and,
while there are
cultures that eat roast brain and
think it delicous, the most common amongst western cultures is either
mixed with eggs and scarmbles, chopped and added to soup or sliced,
fried and tucked in a sandwich. I shall cut my 2" piece of brain and
try all 3. The things I do for this website.
#1 I sliced off a few
tiny pieces of the cooked brain and fried them some more in butter and
lard and put them on a piece of oat cake. It was delicious. The pork
brain was smooth and creamy, which was amazing because even though I
had read in my research that brain is smooth creamy, I just found it
very difficult to believe that it could be smooth and creamy. To be
honest, though, I still feel a little squeamish just knowing that it's
brain, and, of course, it would be completely useless to me as
something to feed other people if they actually knew what it was. I
shall have to think of ways to make stealthy pig brain.
thought it would taste good blended but my piece is too small to work
in my blender, and I don't have stick/immersion blender that would
work. Next day, while cutting up an avocado, I thought the guacomole
would be a perfect sauce to make with steamed pig brain. They are both
smooth and creamy, and the avocado would add enough bulk for the
blender . So I got out my guacamole recipe and will make a guacomole
with roast pig brain for trial #2.
Guacamole dip Trial
2 tablespoons of
roast pig brain
2 tablespoons or one small, finely
tablespoons or one small chopped
wedge of lemon juice
teaspoon of full array salt
Put avocado, roast pig brain, half
the chopped onion and half the chopped tomato into a blender and whir
on high until pureed. Remove from blender and stir in the other half of
chopped onion and tomato and lemon juice and salt. Serve with corn
It tasted good, though I think it would taste better if I didn't know
it had brain in it. I would serve it to people and not tell them it was
anything other than plain guacamole, at least not while they're still
eating it. It could stand to be "spiced up" more according to taste, or
use your own guacamole recipe and add mashed brain to it.
to making the
it roasted enough that it felt cooked -- it is easier to handle when
cooked -- I transferred it to a large pot, covered with water and
brought it to a boil. I then let it simmer for an hour, then turned off
the heat but left the cover on the pot so it could continue cooking in
its own heat.
Rendering off lard
After it was cooled down enough to easily handle the pot, but before
any of the fat congealed, I poured the liquid into another saucepan and
let it sit overnight in a cool area. Tomorrow I will pull any lard on
the top off of it and put it into a glass jar and then, depending on
the thickness of the gelatin either take the meat pieces out of the pot
and start cutting them up into separate pieces of skin, meat and fat if
I think it the gelatin was thick enough, or pour it back into the pot
repeat the "simmering in water" process.
Thickening the gelatin
think I was a little too over-optimistic on that score, and the gelatin
was still too thin after I had strained it from the pot, so I poured it
back into the pot on top of the pig head and let it simmer another
couple of hours. Then I turned off the heat and let it cool. Separating
cooked meat from fat and gristle
it had cooled, I pulled out the pieces of meat chunks I had already cut
out of the pot then removed by hand any other chunks still clinging to
the bone. There was something that I suspect was an eyeball, and I put
it aside, but I doubt if I will ever eat it.
I cut the fat off the meat pieces,
cut the meat into 1" pieces and then put them through a meat grinder.
Most head cheese recipes say to use the chunks of meat for your cheese
and arrange them artistically in the cheese mold, but, as all the
people I cook for don't chew very well, I put it through a grinder. If
you're making this for someone who likes to know they're eating real
pieces of meat, you can just leave the chunks as is.