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Pigs' Head


Daniel
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I just purchased a frozen pigs head down at the Market on Arthur Avenue.. Unfortunately its frozen.. I was hoping someone could help me decide the best way to defrost it..

As of right now I am using the french laundry approach.. I was hoping someone has made it.. Or would have a better suggestion..

Thank you..

gallery_15057_2056_342815.jpg

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Pig's head is great -- when I can get one, I just roast it plain and simple (and serve it with greens and barbecue sauce). You get a lot of crunchy skin and a couple kinds of meat -- not a whole lot, relative to the size, but it depends on how it was carved (and usually I cut the jowls out to cure and cook separately).

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Yes . . . I am definitely interested in what you do with the beast.

Funny story . . . A colleague had just moved to Houston and I offered to take her to some of our more interesting food markets. She was a sheltered type. You know . . . nothing but sterile looking meat, ate only skinless boneless chicken or other meat pieces that didn't resemble anything that had ever been alive. She was wanting to branch out and become "more adventurous" so I took her to one of our big, really nice Latin markets, Fiesta Mart. This time of year, they always have pig heads featured in a freezer case, prominently in the middle of the butcher shop. We had been through produce and I was talking with the produce manager about something as she wandered on. Then I heard this blood curdling shriek. I looked over and saw that my delicate flower of a colleague had slumped to the floor leaning against the freezer case. Yep . . . looking up out of the case were grinning pig heads with their ears all perky. She eventually became a pretty good cook but no one ever let her forget about getting a case of "the vapors" over the pig heads. :laugh:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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A few years ago, we had some absolutely wonderful neighbors who had immigrated from Mexico. He worked at a slaughter house. Every couple of months, he and the guys would head over to the slaugtherhouse on a Saturday morning (Peter even went once and thought it was really cool how the blood spurted). Anyway, I digress.

They would butcher the pig in their back yard, doing all sorts of different and wonderful things with all of those various parts. This was accompanied by great music, all generations partying, and lots of beer and tequila.

But, that afternoon, as soon as the head was severed, Carmen would take the head and make a soup that they would eat the next day. The soup was made in a huge copper pot on an outside burner. To make the "ache in the head" go away. Hangover soup was what I called it.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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That is funny Fifi.. That definately is a great story to have hanging over someone else... :biggrin: In terms of roasting , I of course want to try something a little tricky my first time using this meat.. I want to get into the carving of it.. I want to serve the ears maybe in a salad.. Do something special with the tongue.. Brain sauce perhaps?

I promised a couple of buddies of mine a pig festival.. They had one last year and hired a chef to make them a special pork filled dinner.. Since I havent seen them in a while, I invited them to my place in a few weeks.. This is a trial run for the pork fest..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Place the head in large enough vessel to cover it completely with cold water.

Do this for about 48 hours changing the water at least every eight hours.

Then just let come to a rapid boil for about 15 min., strain refresh water and simmer continously for about four hours with a nice large bouquet garni, plenty of onions some garlic and a good hand of salt, also bay leaves, pepper corns and quarter cup of sugar.

Let cool in its own stock, completely remove all skin, meat (save), discarting eyes, but save cartilage and all bones. Try to compress all meats into a small sqare form of any kind that will hold it all, weighing down with something heavy. Refrigerate overnight. When cooled the meat can easely be sliced first then diced into 1/3 inch cubes, mixed with diced Kosher dills, and diced and other things to make "Suelze" / Souse / Headcheese.

While all the dicing goes on, you can extend the time for that to about 2 hours, because that is the time the saved stock & saved bones will need to reduce by simmering and become strong and flavorful. Added leave Gelatin, diced meat and stock in a laof pan and refrigerated over night should produce something quite edible.

It will for me

Peter
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Thank you for the suggestion Peter.. First and foremost I need to get the head into water... Now, what do you suggest to do with the tongue.. And special consideration or just combine with the rest of the meat.. How about the ears?

Edit to add: Another good reason to get it into a pot.. When going to grab a beer, it scared me half to death.. I completely forgot about the pig.. The guy was peaking at me..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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I've done this recipe a 3 or 4 times - it's delicious - although I usually get the butcher to bone out the head for me. For the tongue, follow Keller's notes, but try to keep the poaching liquid at or below the temp he gives. If it's too high, the tongue will dry out - remember, you're braising it again when wrapped in the cheek. It really adds to the flavour and texture of the ffinished dish.

The second thing is to trim the fat to as thin a strip as possible. Although delicious when cooked, it does begin to overwhelm, after a while.

The third thing is to find some (lamb or veal) sweetbreads and include those too, if you can, as in the recipe. They add a great texture.

Good luck.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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I bone out the head raw and use everything but the brain and eye balls. With the increase in diseases such as CWD in deer and Mad Cow in bovines as well as some reports of CJD from squirrel brains and other animals, we do not eat any part of the nervous system anymore and we also avoid cutting into the nervous system while butchering. Head cheese is then usually the end product. We just did a whole pig sans head a month ago and the head cheese received good reviews from the crowd. -Dick

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Nice!!!! Moby,

Did you post Any photos anywhere?  Please feel to post them here, if not..  If I go this most likely route, I will take your advice to the letter..

Daniel

Sorry - no pictures. But the intstructions in the book work pretty well (although they're among the most vague in the collection). Also, the first time is always a bit intimidating when using unusual ingredients, but you'll see it wasn't so hard after you're done. Also, it doesn't take much longer to do two than it does to do one. I used to keep an extra one in the freezer. Occasionally, if I had a guest for breakfast, I'd defrost one, cut off a few rounds, sauté them in butter until crispy on the outside, and serve with scrambled eggs (I told them it was a sort of fancy 'bacon and eggs'). Everyone, and I mean everyone, thought it was the best pork they'd ever had. The crispy exterior, the incredible melting interior - really, you'll love it.

Keller says to poach the rolled and tied head for - I think - about 6 hours, but that means you have to be spot on with your temperature. The cheeks have huge amounts of internal collagen, but they can still get stringy. Also, do remember to reshape the roll after it's cooled down to get a tight cylinder. It will make all the difference when you go to cut it into rounds. You need it compact so that it won't fall apart when you're frying them.

Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Thank you for the suggestion Peter.. First and foremost I need to get the head into water...  Now, what do you suggest to do with the tongue.. And special consideration or just combine with the rest of the meat..  How about the ears? 

Edit to add:  Another good reason to get it into a pot.. When going to grab a beer, it scared me half to death.. I completely forgot about the pig.. The guy was peaking at me..

If the 'Guy' is peaking at you again, give him a beer too.

Re Tongue, simmer separately (less time), cool, peel, slice lengthwise, make a good veloute with stock, refine with Hollandaise, white wine, acidulate with lemon juice and capers. Nape the tongue with the sauce, enjoy with a good risotto and some greens.

Peter
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Thanks Peter.. I am definately considering this...

Another idea was just given to me by a friend of the family.. Also the provider of the pheasant. I think he gave me some great advice.. Its an old P-Dutch Recipe.. "First, get a large Pa. Dutch crock, just big enough to get the critter into. Then fill to the brim with Wild Turkey bourbon, completely covering the head. Let it soak like this for 24 hours. Then throw the head out and drink all the bourbon. " :biggrin:

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Thanks Peter.. I am definately considering this...

Another idea was just given to me by a friend of the family.. Also the provider of the pheasant. I think he gave me some great advice.. Its an old P-Dutch Recipe.. "First, get a large Pa. Dutch crock, just big enough to get the critter into.  Then fill to the brim with Wild Turkey bourbon, completely covering the head.  Let it soak like this for 24 hours.  Then throw the head out and drink all the bourbon. "  :biggrin:

Nothing wrong with that. :laugh:

Mmmmmm...Bourbon.

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Ok.. So I butchered the head tonight.. I didnt do too bad.. Sorry, the photos are so limited... My camera is not focusing anymore.. Took like 20 shots, 2 were visible..

I have found there are three places to get meat from the pigs head.. Spot behind the eye, the upper cheekbone and the lower cheek area.. I was told to split the head in two down the front, but I had no equipment that was capable of doing so.. In fact, I resorted to breaking some cheek and jaw bone with a hammer to get behind the eye.. The pigs head originally weighed about two pounds.. I would guess that I yielded over a pound of meat..

Here is the head almost done on one side.. The large pieces of meat removed..

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I have the tongue braising.. Moby how long should I let it braise for you think?

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Just wanted to add.. I really have no clue if I did a good job or not.. I could no longer find meat on the pigs head when I was through. I would love criticism or instruction..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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Good butchering. I would say you probably want to slightly under-cook it, because you'll be cooking it again for 4 or 6 hours when cut in batons. So an hour or a bit longer will probably do it - remember you still have to peel the skin off. So - poach it until it siezes up, but before it starts to relax again.

I've seen the pictures of your other food. I'm sure you'll do great.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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gallery_15057_2056_501203.jpg

I would love criticism or instruction..

I have no criticism or instruction, I just want to say that in an unsettling kind of way, this is one of the most beautiful pictures I've seen on EGullet.

Food does not get much realer than that..

I am a butcher's daughter and have always been fascinated with what food, meat in particular, looks like before you find it in plastic wrap in the supermarket.

Thanks for sharing this!

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Thanks Chufi and Moby,

I in no way got this pig for any sort of macho or sick type of joke.. I am really interested in food and animals.. We really treated this guy with the utmost respect and felt pressure not to be wasteful because it was once a life.. I do have a better perspective and more of an understanding..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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There was a program on Dutch television just last night, a documentary about someone who had raised 2 pigs and now was looking for a way to get them slaughtered, which turned out to be quite difficult because ofcourse there are all kinds of regulations and even transporting them to the slaughterhouse was a big project.

Anyway, what struck me most about the documentary was the fact that this man really loved his pigs, wanted to kill them in the best way (with the least pain and stress for them) and then wanted to eat them. I felt that that was also about real food. It was about respect for the animal. So very far away from the porkchops in the supermarket.

One segment showed a butcher measuring the pig and telling the owner what was 'in' it, (so many chops, so many kilo's of bacon, etc.) and then someone else went to the supermarket and bought all those things. Cost him 600 euro to buy all the items that make up an entire pig (but ofcourse minus the head) in plastic wrap.

It made me think of this thread. Maybe this issue deserves a whole new thread, Daniel, because this is kind of digressing from the pigs head in your fridge. :smile: I'll think about it some more and maybe start a new thread.

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Ok.. Perhaps I can help you with the new thread too.. I was working out this moral problem in my head.. Say you raised a couple of rabbits to eat. Do you keep them in a pen in the backyard, or do you keep them in the house and name them.. Either way they will end up on the table.. But isnt it better to give the rabbits a comfortable loving life until you eat them? Sure it might be harder to kill, but what is the more moral route..

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Thanks Bryan..

Tonight I took the meat and pounded it out.. I sliced the semi-cooked tongue and place it through out.. I then took raw sweetbreads and divided it as well.. Next I sprinkled diced pigs ear.. Rolled it, transfered to cheese cloth.. Rolled again..

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I then placed it in a pot.. Added leeks,carrots, thyme, bay leaves, parsley..

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Covered with chicken stock.. Its now baking at 300 for 6 hours.. I will take it out and hang it when I am done..

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This thing has really come together. I am excited for the next steps..

Edited by Daniel (log)
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