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.
Quick Little Banh Mi
- 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)
- Cut the baguette in half length-wise and width-wise. Scoop out a bit of the inside of the bread if needed.
- Spread the mayonnaise on the bottom piece of bread, drizzle with sriracha.
- Put the the headcheese on the top half. Press down and spread if necessary.
- 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).
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.
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).
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…
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.