Welcome to the Farm (Lyons Press, 2017) by Shaye Elliott, is a fully illustrated and detailed guide to growing your own amazing food right in your own backyard. She offers a wide range of recipes, from jam and jellies to growing fields of organic fruits and veggies. The following excerpt is her Head Cheese recipe.
Now, don’t go gettin’ all grossed out on me. Just because the meat didn’t come from a super familiar part of the body, like the pork belly, doesn’t mean that it’s gross. It just means that you’re not used to it. And as a foodie, might I just point out, it’s always worth trying something before you turn up your nose at it.
• Sea salt and pepper
• Large stockpot
1. Put the head (frozen or fresh) into a gigantic stockpot (like a seriously large pot). Cover with filtered water.
2. Slowly bring the pot to a very low simmer. Cover and allow the pig head to simmer on low for 24 hours. By the time the head is done, it will be falling apart into pieces.
3. Carefully remove the head from the stockpot and place it onto a large platter (reserve the cooking liquid). Let it cool before using your hands to pick the meat from the bones.
4. Place the meat into a large bowl. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Err on the side of a little salty, since head cheese is typically eaten at room temperature or cool.
5. Bring the cooking liquid back up to a simmer. Continue to simmer the stock until the liquid has mostly reduced and is slightly thick.
6. Place the shredded meat into a pan (like a loaf pan). Pour the reduced liquid over the meat until the pan is full and the meat is submerged.
7. Refrigerate the head cheese until it is set. The liquid will set and result in a gelatinous loaf of the tenderest meat imaginable. Serve the head cheese sliced cold with a nice, crusty loaf of bread.
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Reprinted with permission from Welcome to the Farm, by Shaye Elliott and published by Lyons Press, 2017.