Monday, February 9, 2015

Project Pig's Head

Living in the country side and calling some farmers your friends can result in the most amazing moments. Especially if you meet said farmer in the local pub after a few glasses of delicious red ale. The result of such a meeting was a knock on the door one evening and I was given a pig's head. Yes, I did mention in the pub that I would like to cook a pig's head because Paul Flynn served whole pig heads at a gala dinner in Dungarvan during a food festival 2 years ago.

Te poor head looked at me and I thought - do I have a pot big enough. I had. So off I went into my library (see photo) to search through
cookbooks. And I discovered that not many food writers have a recipe for a whole head. The legendary Thomas Keller of The French Laundry has one but my butchery skills are limited (he is asking to remove the meat in one piece from the head) - it looked delicious finished but didn't fit my purpose. Fergus Henderson's book Nose to Tail Eating gave nice instructions but didn't include roasting the little fella. The 1938 edition of Economical Cookery by Mrs D.D. Cottington Taylor had a recipe for a sheep's head but I wasn't too sure how that could be translated to a pig. So I went to the source of my inspiration and asked Paul Flynn himself.
A few tweets later

With a few tweets, I felt comfortable to go ahead in my project. The head was already brined, so I simply set a pot of stock & cider with some vegetables on the stove and cooked the head for about 30 mins just to make sure that all scum has left the head. Then chopping some more vegetables (carrots, leeks and onions), putting them in the roasting tin and placed the head on top. Continuing with the cider, pouring it over the head. Covering the roasting pan with tin foil, I baked the head for 4 hours on a low/medium heat.

Towards the end of the baking time, I mixed some honey, brown sugar with salt & pepper and removed the pan from the oven. Taking off the tin foil, I smeared the honey mix all over the head and returned it to the oven. I increased the heat a bit to make sure that we get a nice colour.

The head isn't burned, my camera seems to darken it
The result was great. The meat was cooked through without being dry and tough. The meat of the cheeks was tender and juicy. Mr T loved that he could just pick away at the meat and served with mashed potato and delicious spiced red cabbage was a Sunday feast.

My next project might really be to re
-cook Thomas Keller's recipe of Pig's Head roulade. But in the meantime, said Pig Farmer has challenged me to a pizza cook-off. So back to the kitchen, practicing my pizza skills....... 

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