Thursday, March 15, 2012

Don't be Pig Headed When it Comes to Headcheese

So looking for something a little more adventurous my cooking buddy David and I thought it would be cool to sous vide a pig's head.  They sell them at a local market called Duc Loi.  A wonderful place where you can buy chicken feet, frozen fish balls, Italian tuna, fresh masa, organic produce and more Asian products than all the world's Whole Foods combined.  And at a significant discount, although you won't be able to visit an aroma therapist or buy a pba free Paul Frank thermos for your chai decaf  latte.

At DL you can get the whole beast, and that is a good thing, not only for the world but also for your taste buds.  In the western world of the last 50 years or so we have been too used to eating high on the hog.  But for centuries the whole beast has been not only enjoyed, but celebrated.  And David & I are into celebrating old things, tasty things and modern things so we went about making our modern day head cheese.  Following the guidance of @offalchris we started butchering our pig head.

For a more graphic detail on the butchering check our chef friend from PTC Jill's documentation here.  I will spare you most of the butchery, but for us it was awesome taking the meat off the bone. And there is a lot of meat on that bone/skull.  After removing the meat from skull we had nearly 10 pounds of meat to season and roll.  The the skull is useful as well - we roasted it then placed it in very large pot of water to get a porky stock out of it.

Once we removed the meat we concocted a flavor profile of garlic, lemons, rosemary and mint, with a spice rub that included coriander, cinnamon and dried chilies.

Once it was seasoned we got Alabama on it.  Roll and Tied..

After the meat was secured by twine we placed the 10 pound loaf in a vacuum sealed bag and let it marinate overnight.  Yeah, this is a multi-day process so if you are thinking about doing it plan it out 4 days in advance before enjoying it.  After its overnight marinade, it was placed into a water bath at 190 degrees F for the 24 hour cooking process.

 Once removed from the sous vide bath, it was plunged into an ice bath to stop the cooking process let the meat set up.                                                      

Then back to the fridge for another overnight chill out. 

The next morning it looked like this.  The white part is the congealed fat, and the darker brown parts on the ends are delicious meat jelly, you want  the meat jelly. 

So after removing the the loaf from the bag and separating out the fat and meat jelly, I sliced into it and split it in half to reveal a beautiful marbled masterpiece of meat. The knife sliced through it like butter, amazing just amazing.  Dense, rich and fatty after tasting it David & I could only say it was "F-ing Delicious!"

It makes an excellent base for a salad.  Or as it is so soft and tender you can just spread it on like a meat mayonnaise on a nice piece of crusty bread with a few greens and a spicy picked pepper.  Don't be afraid eating delicious things, just because they're not high on the hog.  Don't be pig headed, enjoy and savor the pig head, it is F-ing delicious.

Due to the long cooking and cooling process I doubt it will ever be featured in a cooking class with Add Thyme, but when we do a sous vide class I will be sure to mention it.

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