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Aug 4, 2007 06:00 AM

Headcheese [split from Ontario board]

Head cheese, also called souse and brawn, is a jellied loaf or sausage. Originally it was made entirely from the meaty parts of the head of a pig or calf, but now can include edible parts of the feet, tongue, and heart. The head is cleaned and simmered until the meat falls from the bones, and the liquid is a concentrated gelatinous broth. Strained, the meat is removed from the head, chopped, seasoned and returned to the broth and the whole placed in a mold and chilled until set, so it can be sliced.(Food Facts and Trivia)

Head Cheese

20 lbs pork
5 lbs beef
1 oz pepper
1/2 lb salt
1/4 oz Allspice
1/2 oz cloves
1/2 oz caraway seed (if you like it)
4 lbs meat stock
The pork used for this usually consists of heads, hearts, tongues, and if using beef, should be shanks and necks.
Put the meat in a large kettle and cover with water then cook at a simmering temperature for 2 or 3 hours until the meat is very tender. The meat is then taken from the liquid and separated from the bones. Cut the meat into about 1/2 inch cubes. Add the seasonings and measure 4 lbs. of the liquid in which the meat was cooked (meat stock) and add this. Mix the whole thing thoroughly with your hands until the seasonings are properly worked into the meat. The meat is then put into hog paunches or beef straight and laid out to cool. They may be pressed by laying a weighted board over them. If you prefer you may place the headcheese in bowls or bread pans.

This has to be eaten fairly soon as it is a fresh meat product. It would keep several months frozen.
Remember Mama's Recipes
Compiled by Marlene and Mabel Mertz
in 1973 by the Stirling, Alberta
LDS Woman's Organization
Key is to use bones/cartiledge that contain enough gelatin to provide the "set"
(collagen in the bone marrow?)Many variations to this recipe such as onion,garlic,bay leaf,peppercorns,the list goes on regarding texture(chop or grind),process and specific ingedients,the idea being not to waste any part of the farm livestock...
Supermarket varieties usually have the gelatin added which does not come naturally from the requisite ingrdients.If left at room temperature real headcheese begins to soften rapidly,which is why it makes such a delicious sandwich, as those tasty oils and butter soft meat melt into the bread!

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  1. I'm a big fan of headcheese and make a reasonable facsimile with pigs feet and other porky bits. I've never made in near the quantity you show here, though. I like it spicy, so put dried pepper flakes in the broth and a little vinegar for tang. I don't think I've ever made it the same way twice.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pat Hammond

      I was just remembering that my father used to make it that way at home: a couple of small glass loaf pans of "head cheese" using feet and tails and whatever other bits, and I swear, I can smell the vinegar, onions, pepper and whatever other spices that he used, right now!