Headcheese

Headcheese Recipe

(Courtesy of the Lang family)

This is a most unfortunate name for a very nice dish, which ought to be called pork in aspic.

To any of you whose only experience with headcheese is the store-bought type, be assured: this is not the same dish at all. The way I make it (very much like the original) it is simply pork in aspic, or, jellied pork. In the old days they'd use whatever was left over from the butchered pig, and that could be kinda off-putting. This recipe is actually very lean.

Just take a three or four raw pork hocks and throw them into about three litres (quarts) of water. Add an onion or two (quartered is fine), salt, pepper, and a clove or two of garlic. Then boil the heck out of the hocks for about two or three hours. The meat should be falling off the bones when it's done, and the liquid should be reduced to two or three cups.

Remove the hocks, discard all the bones and fat (messy, but necessary), and lay the meat in bite-sized chunks in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with more pepper. Get a fine-meshed strainer or cheesecloth; strain the liquid and pour it over the hocks until they are completely covered. Place in fridge or cool porch overnight. The liquid should set in a firm gel, and any fat will have risen to the top where you can easily scrape it off. You're left with some lovely jellied pork, or <grimace> headcheese.

To serve: cut a square, pour a couple of tablespoons of vinegar over it and eat. You'll be amazed how good it is. Note: the vinegar really is important.

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