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Pig head


annachan
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I've been seeing pig heads on sale at some butcher shops. $5 for an entire head, raw. I'm tempting to get one to try it. I'm thinking of roasting it.

How would one go about prepping it? Would you poke holes with a fork like you do with cracklings? Would you brine it? What kind of seasonings? Wet marinade or dry rub? What temp in the oven and how long?

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The harsh truth is there isn't much meat on a head bar the cheeks. You'll end up with a lot of soft fat and bone. That's going to appeal to some folks a lot more than others. Fergus Henderson thinks it works. I'm not so sure. Nice write up here

http://www.nosetotailathome.com/2010/02/guest-post-pot-roast-pigs-head-by-russell-everett/

Cut the skin and meat off in one piece and you can scrape out a lot of the fat and roll the meat in the skin. Thomas Keller and Tom Kitchin both have good recipes for this.

I like brawn. But you get a lot from one head. You need others who share your passion, although it freezes quite well.

I had a bash at a chinese influenced twice-cooked preparation. A few mouthfuls in amongst a few other dishes and I like it a lot. Again, a whole one to yourself is an effort.

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I bought a whole hog a few years ago, and they included the head, skinned and split in two. I had no idea what to do with it, so I simmered it in water and picked the meat off. I got nice broth for making beans, and enough meat for a few sandwiches.

The eyeballs didn't bother me, but the roof of the pig's mouth is corrugated just like a dog's. That skeeved me out.

sparrowgrass
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A very traditional way is to cut off all the meat, ears, snout etc and just boil it in water, serve pieces with a pile of s&p to dip in. That's how we got it in Bavaria and I like it quite a bit.

If you want to get fancy, I think the French Laundry book has instructions on what to do with it, and the lady who wrote the French Laundry at Home blog posted her experience. (her conclusion was - I believe - to never try this at home again)

There's great stuff on the head, but it's a lot of work, so much, I think they should just give them away to those adventurous enough to work with it :laugh:

If it is whole and in one piece I'd definitely suggest to get a bone saw. Actually, maybe I'll have to get a head to justify buying such a saw, I always wanted to hang one in my kitchen :cool:

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Mention a pig's head to a "real" gastronome of Chinese heritage and be ready to catch him as he swoons. I have sat at a table where the head was the featured (only) meat. Except for show at the beginning, we never saw the full head again, what we did see was about 20 different dishes using every constituent part of the head, in about 12 different cooking methods. Probably as good a meal as I have eaten anywhere.

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A very traditional way is to cut off all the meat, ears, snout etc and just boil it in water, serve pieces with a pile of s&p to dip in. That's how we got it in Bavaria and I like it quite a bit.

If you want to get fancy, I think the French Laundry book has instructions on what to do with it, and the lady who wrote the French Laundry at Home blog posted her experience. (her conclusion was - I believe - to never try this at home again)

There's great stuff on the head, but it's a lot of work, so much, I think they should just give them away to those adventurous enough to work with it :laugh:

If it is whole and in one piece I'd definitely suggest to get a bone saw. Actually, maybe I'll have to get a head to justify buying such a saw, I always wanted to hang one in my kitchen :cool:

Just checking my FL cookbook now.

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Mention a pig's head to a "real" gastronome of Chinese heritage and be ready to catch him as he swoons. I have sat at a table where the head was the featured (only) meat. Except for show at the beginning, we never saw the full head again, what we did see was about 20 different dishes using every constituent part of the head, in about 12 different cooking methods. Probably as good a meal as I have eaten anywhere.

When we're in Hong Kong, I made sure we got a roasted piglet for a banquet. Hubby has just learned to love pig ears. So, when the pig got to the table, I put the head on my plate and cut the ears off for him to enjoy. Someone else took the rest of the head home for soup. That is kind of what I want to make at home. Roast it whole, eat the parts we can and then use the rest for soups/porridge, etc.

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I agree with Sheepish... not too much meat on the suckers. I found the best way to do it up was like a brawn - so I usually buy some lean cuts of pork and add that while I'm starting the process. I make a brine and soak the whole head and cuts over night. Then I wash off the brine for about 3 hours, and simmer the head with some veggies for up to 8 hours. Once it's(mostly) cool - there's a LOT of gelatin in these suckers - pull all the meat off. I like to get some meat down in a tray, then layer with fat and meat until it's all done. Now, I like to cube it(depending how deep the terrine is), panko, deep fry, serve with a horseradish cream sauce. Alternatively, just mix all that up a hobart, add some mustard and herbs, push into terrine moulds and it's fine as-is. God I'm drooling.....

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While I remember it, don't forget the best bit of the head. The brain. My saw skills aren't up to removing it whole, but it's not a big deal to withdraw it in two parts. Soak in lightly salted water, peel off the membrane, dust in flour and fry. Very, very good.

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There's always the "Pound the head onto a stake in your front yard, hang a 'Lord of the Flies' sign on it, and scare the hell out of your neighbors" angle, too.

Kidding aside, I had pig's head in Taiwan. It was unbelievably good.

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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Here's the link to the blog page on frenchlaundryathome.com - pig head

I read the whole blog while it was being written, lots of fun reading, and shows you that yes, you can make all the things in the FL book at home. Or mostly all of them.

There's also an entry about pig feet (trotters) and lots more fun to read.

And in case you're still wondering if you should buy the head (and the saw), let me quote her: "This is one of the best things I've ever eaten. The pork was tender and delicious, and you could taste the subtle differences in texture of the different kinds of meat, but when it all came together it was amazing."

She provides lots of graphic pictures, make sure to take your own for us to see if you go that way!

Edited by OliverB (log)

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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There's always the "Pound the head onto a stake in your front yard, hang a 'Lord of the Flies' sign on it, and scare the hell out of your neighbors" angle, too.

Kidding aside, I had pig's head in Taiwan. It was unbelievably good.

I was actually thinking of having that thing in the BBQ to surprise guests! Hubby doesn't think our guests will be amused though.... :wacko:

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chainsaw works in a pinch ;-p

I'm actually intrigued by this now again, after coming across the FL@home post, the finished dish looks pretty awesome. Let us know what you do with it, should you decide to get one!

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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Both my parents have a German background, and they sometimes make a pig's head "wurst" - that's what we called it anyway. Wurst is the generic German term for sausage, so I imagine that the original recipe was for a pigs-head sausage, but my parents simply press the mix into bread loaf tins and slice sections off (like a terrine) to be fried individually. They have a traditional cast-iron, hand-cranked meat mincer which is probably well over 100 years old and it was always something of an event when it was extracted from the garage and cleaned up in order to make wurst. Almost as big an event as opening the fridge and finding a pigs head in there...

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We get a few whole pigs each year, some too big for the rotisserie with head on and those heads go to make a head cheese ala Pepin's method.

Roasting on a rotisserie will yield some crusty skin but the ears go usually but one can break into the brain cavity for some more bites.

I would suggest a head cheese for the best use.-Dick

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speaking of brain cavity, I would assume the brain is still in there? Is that a throw away or do you use it?

I've only had sheeps brain once as a kid when my grandmother made it, I somehow got it down, my little sister was almost in tears and did not. I have not gotten anywhere close to brains on a plate since then, though it's on my "parts to eat" list, as I want to go head to tail. Eventually. I think.

If you boil the entire head in a huge pot, does the brain just melt away?

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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speaking of brain cavity, I would assume the brain is still in there? Is that a throw away or do you use it?

I've only had sheeps brain once as a kid when my grandmother made it, I somehow got it down, my little sister was almost in tears and did not. I have not gotten anywhere close to brains on a plate since then, though it's on my "parts to eat" list, as I want to go head to tail. Eventually. I think.

If you boil the entire head in a huge pot, does the brain just melt away?

Brain is still there and it can be eaten.

If you boil the head, it does not melt away.-Dick

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  • 3 weeks later...

I use a recipe for "Red Beans and Rice" that calls for "smoked pork jowl". I've never had that available :smile:, but maybe I should buy a whole head and smoke the cheeks. (Although I'd rather just get the cheeks.)

Dick in Northbrook, IL

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