charcuterie

Fromage de Tete and Banh Mi ~ AKA Headcheese Update

The headcheese is done! It was a busy weekend but I finally had the chance today to unmold my headcheese from it’s mini loaf pan home.

It’s meaty and gelatinous enough to hold it’s shape fairly well. My one kid who would eat it said he liked it better than the store-bought headcheese he tried last week; because it had more meat.

While I was running across recipes looking for something to do with all the headcheese I now have I ran across a Banh Mi. My understanding is that many different types of sandwiches can be called a Banh Mi, but headcheese is a fairly typical filling. So tonight I fixed up some Banh Mis, with French bread, headcheese, mayo, sriracha, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and pickled veggies. I didn’t make my veggies in an authentically Vietnamese way, I bought a jar of of the Italian-style pickled veg (cauliflower, carrots, peppers, and cucumbers). This was in the interest of getting the headcheese on the sandwich and the sandwich into my belly and onto the blog ASAP. Making Vietnamese pickled veggies is on my to-try list though (see my Pinterest).

I think that perhaps I’m more comfortable with Vietnamese cuisine than with other Asian cuisines because of the French influence. I’m trained on the classically French tip, and that’s what typically feels comfortable for me.

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Quick Little Banh Mi

Ingredients:

  • hoagie-sized baguette
  • 2 slices headcheese
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 3-4 slices of tomato
  • 3-4 slices of cucumber
  • 1-2 leaves Boston Bibb lettuce
  • a big spoonful of pickled veggies (someday soon there will be recipe link here)
  • a few drops of Sriracha (to taste)

Directions:

  1. Cut the baguette in half length-wise and width-wise. Scoop out a bit of the inside of the bread if needed.
  2. Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom piece of bread, drizzle with sriracha.
  3. Put the the headcheese on the top half. Press down and spread if necessary.
  4. Dress the sandwich with the veggies and press down lightly.

Making headcheese was a fun & interesting experience. I learned that I still like doing homemade charcuterie. I learned that people are apparently really squeamish when it comes to animal heads and other obscure animal parts. People that I really didn’t expect to be. I also learned that there are folks that think it’s wicked cool (these are the people who have random food pictures in their phones and don’t think it’s odd when there’s pictures of a pig’s head in yours).

Headcheese Assembly

The end of last week I began to assemble my headcheese. First, I scooped the creamy white fat off the top of my stock. Surprisingly there was close to 2C of it! Below the fat, the stock was thick and gelatinous. I put it on the stove to liquefy and reduce and began chopping my meat. The meat was much easier to chop when it was cold. I put about a handful and a half of chopped meat into a foil mini loaf pan (filled it about 2/3). I had the perfect amount of meat to fill 10 mini loaf pans. It took about half an hour for the stock to reduce once it came to a boil (about 45 mins from the time I put it on the stove). I added about 2 ladles of stock to each of the loaf pans. You can fill the pans as close to the top as you feel comfortable. Once all the loaf pans were full I wrapped them with plastic wrap and put them in the fridge to chill. After 4-5 hours the headcheese had started to solidify, but I would give it 10-12 hours before you try to unmold it.

Headcheese Progress

Today I finally found a pot big enough for my hog’s head. It’s 33 qts. I coarsely chopped 2 large white onions, a pound of carrots (unpeeled, ends cut off), a head of celery (leaves left on), & peeled and smashed about 10 cloves of garlic. When I took the head his vacuum-packaging I gave him a quick rinse in the sink and shaved his scruff with a paring knife (fun). So now the head is simmering away in the pot with the veg, enough water to cover and a few dashes of Kosher salt. I don’t know if it was necessary but about halfway through the cook time (it will be about 6 hours in total), I flipped the head over, because I was concerned whether the snout was getting fully cooked (it was sticking out of the water a smidge).


Update:

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Here’s the fully-picked clean skull. Also, I learned that a dough hook can double as a meat hook in a pinch (because who has a meat hook laying around the house anyway?).

Currently, I have a container of chopped-up usable head-meat ready to go in my fridge. The broth has been put through a strainer & cheesecloth and is way more gelatinous than I had anticipated. Hoping to get everything assembled and working in loaf pans by the end of the day…

“There’s a pig’s head in my car…”

So today I ventured out to Paradise Locker Meats to pick up a pig’s head. The plan is to try to make some headcheese. You guys should know that this a whole new thing for me. I didn’t grow up with this kind of stuff, I am a suburban girl. Having said that, charcuterie was my favorite class in culinary school. I’ve made aspics & terrines, so hopefully I will be able to successfully pull this off.
For now, my new porcine friend is in the fridge, defrosting. Probably for a few days. Also, something a bit disturbing: he has a bit of a 5 o’clock shadow.

Food Trends: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You go to the supermarket- it’s there. The other moms at the playground won’t shut up about it. Your still-hip high school friend is Facebooking about it. Just where did this food come from and why is everyone obsessing over it? Welcome to food trends. Fear not, soon you will be able to find this item at your local McDonald’s and that is how you will know it is almost over. Some food trends will get you excited, some will make you scratch your head, and if you’re like me some will make you FURIOUS.

TEN FOOD TRENDS YOU WILL LOVE OR LOVE TO HATE:

  1. Kale: My God. Kale is everywhere. Sautéed kale, kale in salads, kale chips. Here’s what: I don’t think that kale is any better for you than arugula, endive, spinach, or any other greens out there. And, it tastes terrible. Kale chips are not real chips. C’mon people.                                                                                                                            Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 10.51.46 AM
  2. In-house charcuterie: I am super-excited about this one. This trend came about with the morphing of 2 trends: head-to-tail eating (in other words you purchase an entire animal and eat ALL of it’s bits and pieces) and the pork-everywhere trend. Both of which are trends I am fully on board with. I think this may also be, at least partially, a backlash from the vegan food overload we’ve been seeing in the last few years. Charcuterie was my favorite class in culinary school and homemade pâtés and terrines are very nearly a lost art. LOVE.                                                                          charcuterie
  3. Pretentious food: It’s so very avant-garde (eyeroll)! What? You’re not a fan of deconstructed burritos? There’s a tiny stack of tortilla strips over there, and a small smudge of refried beans here, and some artfully arranged beef in the corner and a smattering of shredded cheese sprinkled over the whole thing. Under the heading of pretentious food is deconstructed anything, anything prepared in a sous-vide (AKA French boiling bags), and anything that Gwyneth Paltrow puts on GOOP.gallery_main-gwyneth-paltrow-meme-01
  4. Canning/brining/pickling: This is uber-trendy at the moment and I’m all over it. I learned to brine my Thanksgiving turkey a few years ago from Aunt Martha– to which my Southern Belle Bestie replied “How else do you make a turkey?” I got a canner at Christmas and I’ve been happily canning soups and tomato sauce ever since. I’ve even made some jams out of wine! So trendy! And let’s talk about pickling and brining. I will literally eat ANYTHING that is pickled or brined– except those weird pale tomatoes at the kosher deli. They’re just creepy.                                          portlanda-pickles
  5. Asian cuisine: It’s not just about Chinese takeout anymore. A few years ago the trend was Pad Thai, then Vietnamese Pho, and now suddenly it’s any and all things Korean. Bulgogi and Kimchi are not words that were in the average American’s food vocabulary 2 years ago and now Korean BBQ places are popping up all over and dishes like Korean Short Ribs are showing up on fine dining menus. A coincidental combination of #4 and #5: you can buy a kimchi pot from Williams-Sonoma! Make your own kimchi at home, and then can it!!                                                                    kimchi-1
  6. Cupcakes and macarons: When I was growing up, cupcakes were what your mom brought to school when it was your birthday and a macaroon was something that was made by Manischewitz and came in a canister. Today, high-end cupcake shops are all the rage and feature humungous cupcakes in interesting flavors. Food Network is running a competition show called Cupcake Wars You can even pair your cupcakes with wine! The macaron (not macaroons) that you’re seeing are are delicate, adorable, fussy, tiny French cakes (although historically they are Italian in origin) made from meringue, sugar, and almond flour (no coconut as present in the macaroons). A sweet trend!

    cupcakes

    These are actual cupcakes made by moi to be paired with wines. From the top: dolce de leche, red velvet, lemon drop.

  7. “Weird Dairy” and non-dairy Dairy: Wow. The dairy section in your local supermarket has grown! The yogurt you didn’t want to eat as a kid now comes in flavors like passionfruit, watermelon, and key lime. You can get an extra protein boost from Greek yogurt (best with a drizzle of honey) or the truly brave can try the weirder dairy products like Kefir. Kefir is a yogurty drink, originally from Russia (remember those Russians that ate yogurt and lived forever?) that contains both bacteria (of the probiotic variety) and yeast. If your local grocery is really trendy you will be able to find quark, a weird dairy product made from coagulated sour milk. It is used in many German baked goods and often as a breakfast spread. The other side of the weird dairy coin caters do non-dairy eating folks like vegans and the lactose-intolerant. There are no shortage of dairy alternatives for you. Gone are the days where the only non-dairy dairy you could get was soy. Today you can get almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, cashew milk and even hemp milk!                                        milk
  8. Farm to Table: Farm to Table is huge here in the Midwest and it seems to be a trend that was MADE for America’s heartland. This trend includes things like eating local, eating seasonally, and knowing where your food comes from. The trend has even spawned a new foodie term: “locavore”- one who eats locally. Restaurants are getting away from using the big food suppliers and forming relationships with local farmers, some are even cultivating gardens and raising fish in-house!folk and roots fest 08
  9. “Ancient Grains”: Ancient Grains include grains such as quinoa, spelt, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, barley, and rye. Five years ago I probably couldn’t have told you what half of those are (the only Buckwheat I knew was on The Little Rascals) much less how to pronounce quinoa (it’s KEEN-wa by the way). Quinoa is super-trendy right now as a substitute for rice or pasta. I think that this trend began as an offshoot to gluten-free diets. But be wary, some of these grains (barley, rye, and spelt) DO contain gluten!                                                                                                              ancient grains
  10. Slow cookers/Crockpots/Pressure Cookers: These used to be your grandma’s bag. The roast would go into the crockpot so she could get household chores done. Today, families are BUSY. Mom and dad work all day, there are sports and rehearsals for the kids after school but most people would like to keep fast-food eating to a minimum. Enter the crockpot/slow cooker. Set it up in the morning and come home to a hot meal ready for the family! The traditional pot roast and chili are there, but also some fun outside-the-box stuff. How about breakfast in your crockpot for Christmas morning? Or a chocolate cake? Bread? Pumpkin Spice Latte? I got my crockpot as a wedding present, and for years I only used it for heating up Glühwein, but in recent years I’ve used it tons more. This is a great trend for families, homemade meals, eaten at home, possibly together? Definitely a good thing.                                                                                                         Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 11.13.44 AM