How to Make Hog Head Cheese
Try This Head Cheese Recipe to Maximize Your Homestead Hog
Don’t make the mistake of thinking pigs produce only chops, bacon and ham. You can also make hog head cheese. When raising pigs for meat, you’ll get many other products you might not consider purchasing at the meat counter. Ignoring or wasting them increases the price of your homegrown pork, and deprives you of some homestead treats and experiences you get from raising hogs for meat.
Thrifty rural residents are renowned for using “everything but the squeal” on a pig. Meat scraps are routinely used for sausage. Lard becomes soap, and the best of it, the leaf lard, is used in cooking. Some homestead bakers will use nothing else, especially for pies.
The tail, with a bit of skin and fat attached, is kept on the stove as an easy way to grease pans. Smoked pork hocks and pickled pigs feet are delicacies.
But what can be done with the head?
At least one Countryside and Small Stock Journal reader skins it, simmers it and uses the meat in tamales. The other popular usage is in a hog head cheese.
Here is a hog head cheese recipe from Kathy and Bob Kellogg, authors of Raising Pigs for Meat.
Split the head into halves with a meat saw. Remove the eyes and clean the ears and nostrils. Rub the head halves with coarse salt and pack loosely into a large kettle. Leave for two days in a cool place or refrigerate.
Wash the salted head in cold water and return to the kettle. Add the tongue, heart and some lean trimmings if desired. Cover the meat with water and simmer until well done and the meat will separate easily from the bones (about three hours).
Remove the meat from the broth. Remove all the meat from the bones and cut it up finely. Discard the bones. Return the meat to the broth in the pan. Add seasonings as desired and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, skimming off as much fat as possible and stirring occasionally.
Pour into loaf pans or molds and chill. Head cheese can be eaten cold as sandwich meat or fried like scrapple.
Don’t forget the tongue!
Try this recipe from Raising the Homestead Hog.
Place a tongue, two medium-sized onions, a carrot, several ribs of celery and some parsley in a kettle. Barely
cover with boiling water and add a teaspoon of salt and eight peppercorns. Simmer until tender (about three hours). Drain the tongue, skin it, and serve. This is good with a mustard or horseradish sauce.
Or, if you take the recipe a step further and slice it and bake it in a sauce, your family won’t even know what they’re eating. For this sauce, melt 2-1/2 tablespoons of butter. In it, brown 2 slices of onion, a chopped green pepper, and a sliced garlic clove. Stir in 2 teaspoons of salt, 2-1/2 cups of tomatoes, 1/2 bay leaf, 8 peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. (You can also add chopped olives or mushrooms, slivered almonds, or just about anything from the homestead garden.)
Place the drained, sliced tongue in a casserole, pour the sauce over it, and bake at 375ºF for a half hour. Taste this just once, and if you don’t already appreciate such meats, you’ll experience an awakening.
Originally published in the May/June 1999 issue of Countryside & Small Stock Journal.
One thought on “How to Make Hog Head Cheese”
Making hoghead cheese from a hogs head is a lot of work and not for the squeamish. However an easy substitute for a head is a skin on front leg also called a fresh picnic . NOT a cured picnic ham.
IT MUST have skin on!!!
Remove skin and get most of the fat off . Try to leave no more than about 1/4 inch fat attached. Remove any large pieces of fat from meat.
Cut skin into rectangles or pieces easier to deal with. In a dutch oven sized pot place skin and meat cut into chunks and bones covered with an inch or so of water bring to a boil and simmer. Add salt , black pepper , red pepper , diced onion , finely diced celery, garlic , bay leaf. How much is dependent on how big the picnic roast is.
Remove the skin when a fork can penetrate it. Let it cool then slice it into thin strips, about 1//8 by 1/2 inch.
Remove the meat when tender let cool and dice or chop into 1/2 or 3/4 inch cubes. Put skin and meat back into pot. Remove bones and get any attached meat off and chop Add it back into pot.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
The consistency needs to be like a thick pudding or cooked oatmeal. Too thick then add water. Too runny then simmer slowly. Stir often to prevent sticking.
Finally, while still simmering add a bunch of green onions and chopped parsley. Make sure you chop the parsley some ,you don’t want whole leaves in finished product. Stir well and remove from heat. Do not keep cooking after adding green onions. It will reduce the onion flavor. I add onions and parsley while still simmering to make sure that any harmful bacteria are killed. Cool some then pour into molds. Bread pans if you want to make sandwiches or flat 9 by 13 inch pan is you want to serve on crackers. It should gel on it’s own when put into the fridge. You can freeze it but the jelly will break down when thawed. I like it when added to thick or stiff cooked grits or cornmeal.
The skin is absolutely necessary to get a realistic hogs head flavor.