Head cheese is not what you would imagine. It is not cheese at all. It is actually a terrine or meat jelly made with meat from the pork’s heart, organs, raw pork rinds, spices and it is often set in aspic. The pork head is used for the tender flesh and because when you boil the head you make natural jelly for the aspic.
It is a very popular starter on Christmas meals in Europe. Apparently meat jellies are a popular peasants food since the Middle Ages. We find different types of head cheese all trough through Europe, Asia, Australia, Britain or North America.
- Prep Time : 03h 00min
- Cook Time : 30 minutes
- Yield : 8
- pork head - a quarter, 1.5 kg
- pork liver - 1 piece, 400 grams
- pork heart - 1 piece, 300 grams
- pork spleen - 1 piece, 200 grams
- pork rind - 100 grams, raw
- pork fatback - 100 grams
- pork meat - 200 grams, fat
- pork stomach - 1 piece
- thyme - 1 teaspoon, dried
- bay leaves - a few
- salt - to taste
- powdered gelly - 10 grams
- peppercorns - a few
A few things before we start:
- We are going to make head cheese encased in a pork stomach. You should find it at your butchery. After you buy it i advice you to let it soak over night in water mixed with vinegar. This way all the smells will be gone. After this you have to turn the stomach inside out and clean all the excess skin. Leave it like this with the inside out.
- Make sure the head doesn't have any hair on it. If it does burn it on the stove top. After that scrape it using a knife
Now let's make the head cheese:
- In pot filled with water put to boil the pork head along with the bay leaves and peppercorns. Put plenty of water, you will need the stock later.
- In a different pot put to boil the organs and in a third, boil the pork meat, the pork fatback and later on add the pork rind. The last one will boil faster than the others. Add in the third pot bay leaves and peppercorns for flavor.
- Let all the ingredients boil very well. The organs boiled first. Boiling every thing took about 2 and a half hours. The pork head takes the longest to boil. When the pork meat and the fatback were almost done i added the rind.
- After every thing is boiled you must let them cool until you can handle them.
- Now let's start chopping: the organs, pork meat and fatback in little cubes, the rid and the pork's ear in very thin slices. I took the meat off the bone and cut it into pieces.
- Add all the chopped ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt, pepper and thyme, to your taste. Taste to see if it has all the spices it needs.
- Tie the pork stomach at the thinner end and start filling it with the mixture on the other end. Don't over stuff it or it might break when you boil it.
- Now mix the powdered jelly with two ladles of pork broth (the broth in which the head or the meat and fatback have boiled, not from the organs, that one goes away).
- Add the jelly mixture in the pork stomach over the chopped meat. Don't add too much. Tie it at the other end.
- Using the finest needle you have make a few holes in the stomach for the air to come out.
- Boil the head cheese in the pork broth for 20 minutes until the stomach cooks.
- Take the head cheese out from the broth and put it to be pressed for 12 hours with a weight on top. I used two wood boards and a pot filled with water on top of it.
- After the 12 hours it is ready to be served with mustard, red onion and horseradish sauce.
Enjoy your meal!
- In that awful and tragic moment that might happen if you head cheese breaks when boiling do not despair. Take a needle and some thread and sew it where it broke. Add some more broth on between the stitches and put it back to boil. Your starter was just saved.
Head Cheese Video Recipe