Head cheese comes from cooking a head, reducing the broth, chilling it till solid, then eating what's left. Who knew?
Some of us here at Beams have been experimenting with learning traditional kitchen skills like canning, pickling, hunting, and butchering. As city kids, most of our food was bought at stores (I had never even planted something until about a year ago), and I can only remember my mom canning one time when I was young. I like the idea of learning what feel like foundational human skills, and when I think about it, I have a mild feeling of vulnerable not knowing how to do these things myself. I mean, what if I'm lost in the forest one day and need to cook a pig's head into a delicious gelatinous loaf?
I'm not alone in these thoughts. Rather, I'm just a fringer in what is becoming a pretty substantial natural-foodie-sub-culture.
This neat little video, with slick production and oh so cool commentary, offers a recipe for do it yourself head cheese. If you're into that sort of thing. It also serves up instructionals for pate and blood sausages. Seeing them made in someones kitchen, it strikes me that these surprising recipes were all developed by people like you and me, in their kitchens, at some time or another, as they tried to figure out how to use all the different parts of the dead animals they found on the chopping block. This apparently obvious point is easy to overlook when you get your cuts from the freezer section, I suppose.
Here's what you do for head cheese:
Kill one pig.
Hang her upside-down, scald, and scrape.
Once she is thoroughly clean, remove her head.
Submerge it in a brine for several days.
Place in a large pot with trotters (feet), and cover with water.
Add veggies and simmer.
Be diligent in skimming the scum, lest it sink and cloud your stock.
Boil significantly, remove the flesh, and strain the stock.
Reduce said stock until it is thick.
Place head-flesh in a casserole dish and pour the reduction over it, filling to the top.
Refrigerate that sucker till it turns solid.
Turn it over to knock it out of the dish, and viola, head cheese.
Slice and serve.
"Farmrun is an agricultural media production studio based in the pacific northwest. we intend to serve the needs of the burgeoning agrarian renaissance by producing dynamic media for agricultural enterprises and organizations."