You might remember me getting a bit excited just before Christmas when I explained that Santa was bringing me a copy of ‘Larousse Gastronomique‘, well as I read through this epic tome, I shall be sharing some of my new gained knowledge with you all. Now before the copyright lawyers down there at Octopus Publishing get too excited, I should state that I will not be reproducing or utilizing any of the actual copy from this wonderful publication – rather I will be writing in general terms about concepts and dishes inspired by my epicurean journey. That being said I will focus on dishes, techniques and terminology that might not be considered common knowledge. Today….it’s Brawn – aka Head Cheese:
Brawn (British) or Head Cheese (American) is a cold cut originating in Europe. Another version pickled with vinegar is known as souse. Head cheese is not a cheese but a meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) in aspic. While the parts used can vary, the brain, eyes and ears are often removed. The tongue, and sometimes even the feet and heart may be included. Head cheese may be flavored with onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, salt, and vinegar. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat. Can also be made from quality trimmings from pork and veal, adding gelatin to the stock as a binder.
Historically meat jellies were made of the cleaned (all organs removed) head of the animal, which was simmered to produce stock, a peasant food made since the Middle Ages. When cooled, the stock congeals because of the natural gelatin found in the skull. The aspic may need additional gelatin in order to set properly.
If you fancy giving Head Cheese a go for yourself you’ll find a nice recipe here
Mmmm Head Cheese (as Homer would say! – Simpson not Ὅμηρος)