Saturday, June 27, 2009

Head Cheese

No, it is not really cheese per se. It does have a formed-curd kind of look to it, though. Head cheese is made from, yes, a pig's head, as well as the trotters (lower legs with hooves) and in this case which I shall describe for you, a beef tongue.

Recently, I had the delicious opportunity to prepare this wonderful delight from the world of charcuterie thanks to the hayseed-encrusted and (allegedly) manure-splattered Smallholder. Proper celebration at a recent family event required the roasting of a whole pig carcass (and the drinking of beer during said roasting). The head and trotters from this pig were delivered to me fresh from the slaughter after riding in the Maximum Leader's lap, assisted by the Minister of Propaganda, in Smallholder's truck. It was almost as disgusting as it sounds:

I used the recipe from the great book Charcuterie by Ruhlman and Polcyn. As they allow for the omission of pink salt in the recipe, I used a fresh beef tongue instead of a cured one as the recipe instructs.

The first step is the cure, accomplished by brining:


Next, a simmer in an aromatic bath for about 3 hours:

(Note: the streaks on the head, apparently a blood stain, were scrubbed in vain.)

Now for the dissection and chopping of the meats:

Into the mold they go, to be covered with the now highly gelatinous bathwater.

Molded and set, ready to eat:

A lot of time and effort went into making this two-and-a-half pound loaf. But even the finest deli would have trouble equaling the taste. Delicious.

While we are on the subject of charcuterie: We wants it, my precious!


The Maximum Leader said...

I don't think I've gotten all the blood stains off my jeans yet. I've washed once. I might try again tonight. If I can't make a lot of headway on them, I'll likely get a new pair and retire the old ones for the next time I come down to play on the farm.

Polymath said...

Lady Macbeth must have had pig blood on her hands...

I am now doing a freezing experiment with the head cheese. Hopefully, it will thaw without unsetting the gelatin.

The Maximum Leader said...

Indeed she must have...

I am curious to know if the freeze/unfreeze will work. I am going to bet that it might not. I think it is the thawing that will be the problem. I will pray for the best for you.