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Pigs head terrine

By September 09, 2016 , , ,

I’ve been wanting to make this for quite some time. I’ve had pigs head a couple of times now, the first was at that famous Nose to Tail eatery St John in London where I had a suckling pig feast with friends when I was leaving London and the second was at BROR in Copenhagen.   

Many recipes will refer to it as brawn or head cheese, which are essentially just another name for pigs head. Now this is not a recipe for the faint of heart. You will end up carving up a pigs head and rooting around in skull cavities for meat once its cooked. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I thought it best to put it on the table up front before you embark on this recipe. The recipe itself is simple enough, what it does take is time, so best to give yourself a day and a half to make this.

You’re also thinking where on earth am I going to get a pigs head? Any good butcher will be able to supply one, you will however need to ask them specially. I am lucky in the fact that Paul van den Hooven at Wild Vleesch gives me notice when he’s about to slaughter some pigs so I can put my meat order in. What I like about his butchery is that he cares about his produce. He knows the farmers and knows that they look after their animals and ensures that the animals are slaughtered in a humane manner.

When considering this recipe, I would advise 2 things. One, only buy half a head unless you’re catering for a very large number, and two, make sure you have a very large pot. You’ll need at least a 10 litre pot if you’re considering half a head and 20 litre if you go for a whole one. Even with the half head you will still need to carve the head into pieces to fit it in the pan.

Serves 8 people as a starter

Half a pigs head            
3 onions quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 stick celery roughly chopped
2 carrots roughly chopped
10g salt
10 pepper corns
2 sprigs rosemary
5 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
1 sage leaf

Place all ingredients in a large pan and top up with water to cover the head
Simmer on a low heat for 4 hours
Allow to cool slightly before removing the head
You will them need to pick out all the meat ensuring you separate the fat from the meat, place to one side in a bowl until you’ve prepared the shallots and garlic for the terrine mix
It is better if you have small pieces of meat, the meat should fall apart quite easily when you are removing it
For the terrine mix
1 clove garlic finely chopped
2 shallots finely chopped
3 sprigs thyme, leaves removed and chopped
oil for frying
Salt and pepper to season
Head meat

Fry the shallots and garlic in the oil on a low heat until soft, allow to cool
Add them to the head meat along with the thyme and season with salt and pepper and stir through
Line a terrine dish with cling film and fill the dish with the meat mix, ensuring it is well compacted together
Place in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight to allow it to set

I like to serve this with my fig and plum chutney on some toasted bread

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