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Let's talk about Head Cheese.

Inspired by the "Let's talk about Liverwurst" thread.. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/824295

I freaking love head cheese. Why is it so underappreciated? It boggles my mind that people will buy metric tons of shitty "ham product" for their sandwiches while the mighty head cheese seems to be disappearing. And like it's neglected cousin liverwurst, head cheese is one of the cheaper cuts available at the deli. Win!

With (cheap) ham the entire slice is the same ham mush, whereas with head cheese you never know what texture awaits your next bite. My favorite is the gelatin holding everything together, of course. Of all the cold cuts out there, this is my #1 pick for eating straight up. I don't want the different textures to get lost with bread and condiments.

How do *you* like your head cheese? What's the best head cheese you've had?

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  1. The best I've ever had is Boar's Head, but it isn't cheap, at something like $8 per pound.

    Other than that, I've had "mystery meat" in Vietnamese banh mi subs that is probably similar to head cheese. Great sandwiches, but the meat isn't as tasty as the Boar's Head stuff.

    1. Just thinking about making head cheese. Was looking at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook website for their recipe. Looked good.

      2 Replies
      1. re: emglow101

        I'd encourage you to make it.
        You can go the traditional route and boil up a pig head, but its sometimes difficult to get.
        You can get excellent results with pigs feet (and/or hocks)as well.

        1. re: porker

          I talked to my local butcher today. I can get a whole pigs head no problem. I am going to make head cheese in a couple weeks. This is exciting.

      2. I had to Google "head cheese" as I don't think I've come across the term before. I see it's what I would call "brawn".

        It's a fairly generic product, usually available at cooked meat stalls in markets, rather than more easily available in supermarkets.

        The best I know is a bit different from brawn, as it uses a bigger variety of meats and they are in bigger chunks in the jelly. It's potje vleesch (in Flemish). Always served with fries and a leaf salad.

        1. "whereas with head cheese you never know what texture awaits your next bite


          the gelatin holding everything together"

          are the two reasons head cheese makes me gag, always has. I have texture issues.

          My father (solidly in the OP's camp) loved it and thought I was crazy for not liking it.

          6 Replies
          1. re: cleobeach

            This is it! My entire family adores head cheese and I have tried to share their love but it really is not my thing.

            I have been searching the head cheese circles of this lack of love for a buddy and finally found you cleob!

            1. re: HillJ

              I'm here for you Hill!

              I don't even like typing about head cheese. The thought of Jello makes me gag. Imagining the thought of "surprise texture" meat makes me want to cry a little.

              (I also dislike all forms of offal, which will probably get me kicked off CH.)

              1. re: cleobeach

                Thanks cleob! I was feeling a tad lonely :)

                1. re: HillJ

                  Count me in too. For me it's not the different textures of meat but the gelatin - I'm just not a fan of aspic in general, especially in savory flavors. I love liverwurst and other things of that ilk, just not headcheese.

              2. re: HillJ

                Me too. My parents loved it and served it as "veal loaf" to we unsuspecting children...

                I love, love love aspic. But I hate greasy weird bites of mystery meat.

                So if we are all served this, I will eat the gelatine part and y'all can eat that "meat"

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  Interesting. I have never thought of one (gelatin) without the other (meat). Never got that far!

                  Veal loaf, huh. My Uncle use to call pork rinds (another food I'm on the fence about) crisps in order to stop us kids from asking him once again how do they make those?!

            2. Headcheese is still widely available in South Louisiana and, except for a few years of being almost underground in some cities, has never vanished. The young, trendy chefs in New Orleans have been making their own...I think it provides a sense of :adventure" for visitors although the stuff is available in Cincinnati and Pittsburg and elsewhere. Over the years I have had several favorites, many of which are gone. The local commercial versions are not that good but they must appeal to such a broad base I suppose it cannot be helped. just now there are a couple of country stores in Acadiana that I go to, a place in St James Parish near New Orleans (the alst batch from them bought last week, was not up to their usual standards) and a superb brick from Armond's in Slidell which is the present reigning champion.

              many people use crackers but I just eat it straight, Occasionally I will put a little horseradish on it as Russian do with Kholodetz (tongue in aspic).

              27 Replies
              1. re: hazelhurst

                I grew up on it knowing head cheese as "souse". Ate it w/ my dad on saltine crackers and the souse dipped in vinegar.

                Today it doesn't look like I remember (too much gelatin). Then, a couple of years ago, I found some that looked "right". lol! Got home and tasted it, taste wasn't like I remembered. :(

                1. re: chloebell

                  Stores in Nashville offered commercially-produced head cheese AND souse, the apparent difference being that souse had only chopped ears and the like while Head cheese had some muscle meat as well. I don't know if these are still available; when we returned after a two-year absence I was saddened to see how Yankeefied the meat departments had become.

                  Here in Los Angeles County we can get the old-fashioned style head cheese; there's also a Russian sausage company that makes a version, but the spices they use in it are the same as what flavors their hot dogs!

                2. re: hazelhurst

                  We were in Acadiana just before Xmas.
                  Although I didn't visit THAT many "specialty meat" joints, I did not see mom&pop (homemade) versions of headcheese.
                  I did buy the commercial Richard's cajun head cheese. It may have traded true taste for mass appeal, but I liked it anyway!

                  1. re: porker

                    Richard's is better than most commercial versions but you should go up into Evangeline Parish and get the lighter colored stuff up there that is made in big loaf pans and cut out in almost-white bricks.

                    For years the Clerk-of-Court's wife in St James' made great headcheese that you could buy at the courthouse or at the late Breezeway Bar on River Road.

                    1. re: hazelhurst

                      Now you tell me!
                      It would seem we breezed by these places (@ St. James)while heading back to NO on the 61....

                  2. re: hazelhurst

                    In 1963-64 I had a friend in the USAF from Norco,LA. at the Bonne Carre Spillway. There was a place named the Spillway bar where we would get big bricks of the best HHC I ever had and take it back to Keesler Field in Biloxi.
                    You brought back some great memories. Haven't found any as good since but I haven't checked out the specialty meat stores in Acadiana. The ones that advertise on KBON-Louisiana Proud!

                    1. re: redstickboy

                      I was scant miles from the Spillway bar last night. Went to Schexnayder's in Back Vacherie and got a couple of bricks of their "hot" hogshead cheese. I am snacking on some pieces right now. it is fairly zippy stuff and has a very good gelatin flavor. I'd rank it amoung the bestter ones I have had in the last year.

                      Someone down thread referred to trouble finding tongue. I can get it at Asian stores sometimes and almost always at rural sotres or sometimes at so-called low-income stores..I guess the theory is that folks without much money will eat the offal? I love tongue--and tripe etc and will drive around to find it. It may not be procurable everywhere but I'd bet unless one lives in Plasticville USA there is someone somewhere with kidneys, tripe and even brain.

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        Good point about the Asian stores for tongue -- I will try that. I love tripe too, though not prepared the way most people do in the UK, with milk and onions, yuk, but either as the French do, a la mode de Caen, or, and I think I invented this, cut into thin small strips, rolled in flour (I use polenta/fine maize flour) well season with mild paprika and salt and then either deep fried or cooked crispy in a single layer in a hot cast-iron range (Aga).

                        1. re: ppb

                          Try tripe in a soup, Slavic style. Just the thing on a cold night.(Any slavic soup is good for that, though)

                          1. re: hazelhurst

                            I don't have a recipe for Slavic soup... Bear in mind that I live in the UK most of the year, only spend about three months of the year in FL. My husband is American but his repertoire is very mid-west based and entirely unethnic. Can you give me a few pointers pls? I'm guessing this has nothing to do with borscht!

                            1. re: ppb

                              I can look it up although I am sure there are some online,. the best I ever had was by a Czech friend who has me over because his wife doesn't really like it and he wants someone to enjoy it with. I am not sure if any of my Russian cookbooks--of which I have about ten--has it.

                              1. re: ppb

                                I just called my friend and got a general recipe although the amounts are vague. But for one pound of tripe he said use a large onion, five or six crushed cloves of garlic, at least a tablespoon of paprika. Celery or other vegetables are optional but he said in the 1930s whatever was growing in the yard was fair game.

                                Wash tripe well. Sprinkle salt on it and rub well, letting sit, moist, in a bowl for a few minutes. Wash again vigorously. bring to a boil with plenty of water to cover.. After an hour, pour off this water and slice tripe into soup-sized pieces, then return to the pot with more water to cover..this amount of water will be your soup liquid, allowing for some boil off. This simmering will require at least 90 minutes more. (You may add salt pork or bacom to this liquid). Render bacon or pork or melt butter (about one stick..you can comine lard/butter if desired) and fry onion until soft, add garlic at end. sprinkle flour over this mixture at ratio of about one-to-one and cook until light golden. Separately fry the paprika in butter, being careful not to burn..just "toast" it. Add some of the hot tripe liquid to the flour amalgam. Add paprika glop to that, mix well and keep hot. Add tripe and liquid to the whole and cook for about half-hour, testing tripe for doneness.
                                Some people add marjoram he said. OK with/OK without. Some Poles use dill, he said. Finish with a bit of lemon. Sometimes he adds cream, sometimes a dollop of sour cream. Nothing too hard and fast. But, as with kidney soup (see rassonlik) you have to treat the tripe properly first.

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  Thanks very much for taking the trouble to get this. I'll most certainly give it a try :-)

                                  1. re: ppb

                                    Hope it is not too vague (although most Slavic cooking is, in my experience, fairly basic "eyeball it" stuff). Let me know how it turns out. And nothing is cast in stone so go ahead and add star anise or whatever strikes you.

                                    1. re: hazelhurst

                                      No, that'll be fine, thanks a lot -- I don't often follow a recipe exactly anyway. The last time I made tripes a la mode I just did it from guesswork. I may not be able to make it right away as I can't always get decent tripe here (in the East Midlands of the UK). It's much easier to get in the north and is of a far better quality, and much whiter, than in the south where, if you can get it at all, it's a disgusting yellow colour. Another thing I often have to order is lambs' brains and hearts (I'm going to try the grilling suggestion for hearts that the Hunt etc site suggests for venison hearts but use lambs' hearts instead. Stuffing them is too fiddly). Does anyone cook sweetbreads these days -- I love them too.

                                      1. re: ppb

                                        I've eaten sweetbreads since I was a boy 50+ years ago. In New Orleans we always had them in the old line places (and Antoine's used to get tripe for my father). [Yellow tripe sounds revolting..just yesterday I saw some very nice white tripe in Vacherie Louisiana, about thirty miles north of NOLA.] And before New York City turned its back on its good ethnic cookery..sometime in the 1960s/70s...you could get all kinds of offal (and skate) in little markets around Manhattan. It has been rediscovered and people find themselves monstrously adventurous.

                                        1. re: hazelhurst

                                          We had skate wings last night with beurre noisette and caper sauce. Utterly delicious. You can get them in the decent mainline supermarkets here in the UK now (I'm guessing you were talking about the fish), but no supermarket sells offal here apart sometimes from kidneys. Fortunately we still have butchers' shops. I've never seen skate on sale in the US but some of the supermarkets sell offal of course. Where I live in FL we do have an independent Italian butcher, but he doesn't seem to sell offal.

                                          1. re: ppb

                                            Skate is hard to find in the US and often, when found, is going off disastrously. In 1960s NYC it was always as "raie au beurre noir" (which I think I last had in a restaurant at Green's in London). I get it from fisherman friends who've been taught how to handle the wings and I can get it in fairly short order. Of course, there is the school of thought that the beurre noir treatment arose to cover up the developing ammoniac problem..it does go off rather quickly..but I love that preparation.

                                            There is a rural meat market I was looking for yesterday with a friend but he was stubborn and searched the wrong road until the place was likely closed. But I am told that it is the kind of place where the cattle and pigs walk in the back door and go out the front in shopping bags. I expect they'll have all kinds of good offal. The place I fell back on for headcheese is the one that had tripe.

                                            1. re: hazelhurst

                                              I didn't know that about skate. It fell out of favour here for a couple of decades but is now quite popular again. I don't know how else to prepare it except with capers and beurre noire or noisette. The fish itself takes literally about 2 mins in my Aga. Good luck with finding the meat market another time. Sounds like a trip down memory lane.

                                              1. re: ppb

                                                My Italian friend used to chop skate wing into 2"x2" pieces on the bone, toss in flour seasoned with tumeric and salt and deep fry. Then he'd put the pieces in a pickle (vinegar + water). A pickled fish snack.

                                                In summer, I'll grill skate wing - kinda like a poor man's lobster.

                            2. re: ppb

                              I'm not sure your tongue is the same as the asian store tongue....
                              I'm a fan of the gellied meats as you describe below, including gellied tongue. Some folks simply call this "tongue" and I never really saw this in an asian store.

                              What I *do* find are actual pork tongues (and other assorted offal). I buy tongue from these places when making pickled tongue or the gelatina.

                              1. re: porker

                                I do not recall seeing the jellied tongue in an Asian store but I have seen the raw product. Laotians like it. Also, my Lebanese friends make it in the non-jellied form which is how I grew up eating it.

                                I am a great fan of the Russian version is jelly, too.

                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                  Yes, porker, sorry, I wasn't thinking I could be introducing confusion: when I first mentioned tongue I was thinking of the jellied pressed version sold as cold cuts, though I have in the past bought the raw whole tongue, cooked it and pressed it myself without the addition of jelly. Whole tongues, raw or pressed tend to be sold in small butcher's shops around Christmas time here in the UK, and beef tongue would be used. I've never seen pork. It is this kind of pressed cooked tongue that I would slice thickly and simmer in red wine with a few sliced mushrooms and a handful of raisins for the German dish Zunge in Rotweinsosse. Great with mash.
                                  The pickled battered fish is also interesting -- I dimly remember eating something like this when I lived in Germany though it wasn't skate.

                                  1. re: ppb

                                    UK supermarkets usually stock both beef and pork tongue, ready sliced for sandwiches.

                                  2. re: hazelhurst

                                    Btw, I have an old American recipe for mincemeat (the stuff that goes in mince pies) which uses cooked tongue as the meat element, which is of course usually omitted today. We bought the fresh tongue, cooked the whole thing from scratch and it was delicious, but most people couldn't tell the difference. We gave up, discouraged, after a few years.

                              2. re: hazelhurst

                                In my area in the NYC 'burbs the price has shot through the roof for tongue the past 6-7 years. Fresh raw or smoked tongue costs around $20-30 each.

                            3. re: hazelhurst

                              Actually the version at Terranovas is pretty good. So is the Creole Country one. All is not lost.

                            4. I think its underappreciated because of a few things:
                              1. The texture issue as cleobeach points out.
                              2. The name - people associate "head" with nastiness and assume theres pig brain, eyeball, gums, earwax, teeth, and whatever else you can think of in the final product.
                              3. General disdain for any of the more processed types of charcuterie.

                              I don't care if its true "headcheese", or scrapple, or jellied tongue, I like it all.
                              I make my own pickled, gellied pigs feet occasionally.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: porker

                                I have made "city scrapple" by melting head cheese into cooking polenta. It was really good, though it lacked the tang of my first restaurant scrapple.

                              2. Most people have a reasonable expectation of what they're getting when they buy ham or even "ham product." For those who've not experienced head cheese, the idea of a pig's head and its cheese byproduct likely sends their imagination into overdrive.

                                But as for me, count me as a lover of head cheese or brawn. My favorite is the Topfsülze from my local German deli which pairs the jellied pork with vinegar, olives and pickled peppers. A bit too tangy to eat on its own, but great in a sandwich.

                                1. surely you mean brawn. one of the things i eat a lot when in Germany (Sülze/Presskopf/Presssack etc)! it's part of the 'Vesper/Brotzeit'. every butcher shop has its own versions and different ingredients (blood, tongue, other bits).

                                  the last time i had excellent brawn (only a few weeks ago in south of Germany) was in a small village, made by the pub owner herself.

                                  even then, when Bach was writing his masterpieces, all they had to eat was brawn in now so-called developed countries.

                                  oh yeah, how i like it: as part of Brotzeit (like in southern Germany). (i tried looking up Brotzeit but got rubbish results?!?)

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Pata_Negra

                                    Pata, have you ever in your travels come across the term Kopfkaese in Germany? I also knew it as Suelze there, but thought it was called Kopfkaese too in some parts, and had always assumed that the name "head cheese" used in the States was a translation of that.

                                    1. re: ppb

                                      No, never 'Kopfkaese'. As brawn is made using a whole hog's head that's why the name of this food has the word 'head' in different languages/countries.

                                      I've been enjoying Hungarian 'pork head cheese' (see Hungary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head_ch...). I'm now a regular customer at this Hungarian stall at the market! He makes not only 'pork cheese' but also smoked Speck, sausages etc.

                                      1. re: Pata_Negra

                                        My Welsh great aunt used to make brawn with a sheep's head. I've not seen anyone in this thread mention anything but pig's head, and I know that's what they use in Germany, Hungary etc, but she used sheep -- I often saw the head when she was preparing it. Unfortunately, rather a lot of hair used to get into the jelly of the final product, which I think must have been cats' hair as she had 12 black ones and it was that colour (they would sit on the shelves of the Welsh dresser, in among the China plates). You can imagine how that grossed me out as a small child. Mind you, I'd not be keen on hair as an ingredient even today. I never got the recipe as a result.

                                        1. re: ppb

                                          My Mom's Welsh and said that while pigs head is what was normally used for brawn, if you were shepherds you could also use lamb or mutton. Also that if you had no freshly butchered heads to use for brawn, you would use leftover bits from roast beef, veal, etc. with some ox tails or pig trotters (for the gelatin) to make brawn. I came up with an ox tail/carrots/onion brawn recipe a few years ago that's really tasty, and I make it several times a year.

                                          My mom came from hundreds of years of Welsh Shepherds and coal miners. My cousins still live in the almost 500 year old farm house in Wales where my mother was born, and still keep a few hundred sheep, but not the thousands from back when I was a little kid.

                                          1. re: JMF

                                            I didn't know about using leftovers for brawn -- that's interesting . The oxtail variant sounds really good if you care to share. I always keep a couple of split pigs' trotters in the freezer, just in case!
                                            I was also born and spent my early years in Wales, but in urban or semi-rural environments. In the days of food rationing we would buy a half interest in a neighbour's pig, kept in a sty in the back yard and fed on potato peelings and whatnot, and though I was tender-hearted enough not to step on grasshoppers, come slaughtering day I knew there was bacon and other good stuff headed my way and didn't mind the squeals a bit!

                                            1. re: ppb

                                              I also keep pig trotters in my freezer for instant access.

                                              For the oxtail brawn I first brown the oxtails, then put in a pot with some cut up carrots, onions, celery, two bay leaves, cracked black pepper, and a small amount of some other herbs or spices. I bring to a boil and then simmer gently, covered, for at least two hours. I strain it through a colander and chill the broth to remove the fat, which I save to cook with. It's very tasty fat. I remove the meat and throw away the bones and veggies. I then boil the broth and reduce it until it is a bit stronger than if it was going to be a soup. I may add 1-2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin so it will be extra firm when done. I dice some more carrots and onions, and the reserved oxtail meat, and add back to the broth and cook until the carrots are just getting to the point between firm and tender, with no crunch. I then portion the meat/veggies into small bowls or ramekins, filling 2/3 of the way, and top off with the broth. I let it cool to room temp. then cover with plastic wrap laid directly on the surface of the gelling broth. I then put in the fridge overnight until firm. At this point it can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks, or frozen, well wrapped or vacuum packed it will keep for 6-12 months. It defrosts well.

                                              I like it cold, splashed with a tasty vinegar, with a light salad on the side made with the same vinegar.

                                              Sometimes I add cider or malt vinegar to the broth to give it a nice tanginess. I may add pig trotters to join the oxtail for a different flavor, and to boost the gelatin. (I don't brown the trotters, just throw them in the pot.)

                                              1. re: JMF

                                                That sounds really good, thank you very much. I'll definitely try that. It's interesting how many people have said they eat vinegar with their brawn. We couldn't get oxtail here in the UK for quite a while because of CJD, unless you swore to your butcher that you were feeding it to the dogs (nudge nudge wink wink); that ban was lifted some time back but it's still not as widely available as it used to be and I haven't seen brains on sale in ages.

                                  2. My father made the best I've ever had, but a good commercial brand is Karl Ehmer's suelze. A bit more piquant than most:


                                    If you're ever on Long Island, check out the Forest Pork Store version. Almost as good as my father's:


                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: phofiend

                                      Wow! Thanks for this. Grew up in Syosset, never knew this place was there.
                                      Now I'm in Jackson Heights and I love the fact that I have a Polish deli across the street from a Russian deli - haven't decided whose head cheese I like best, I have to keep trying them!

                                    2. I eat it with saltine crackers and hot sauce. ~ Lots of good ones around... Treitler's in Picayune Mississippi is one favorite.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Uncle Bob

                                        That IS a good one: I used to pick it up when I was running through there a bit in years past. I'm lucky to get to Slidell these days (but I have a mule who brings Armond's in for me)

                                      2. He had fun but it is a jejeune rant.

                                        Prime beef is also rot.

                                        1. Name and appearance. As porker mentions, when people hear "head cheese" a lot of them think eyes, brains, ears, snouts (I personally like a well-prepared pig's ear: brains have too much cholesterol) and don't know about the delicious little bits in the cheeks and other fleshy parts - although it's getting to be acceptable if you call it guanciale.

                                          Second, I think when many Americans think about meat they think about a big slab o'flesh, and head cheese is assembled out of bits and pieces. They don't realize that the gelatin holding them together is the stuff cooks prize in a good stock - and there were some pretty awful jellied meats around in the 50s that left a lasting impression.

                                          Then there's the slippery slope: you start out eating head cheese, and the next thing you know you're scarfing down the blood sausages :)

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: tardigrade

                                            I love blood sausages! Together with head cheese and liverwurst, they are my holy deli trinity. Maybe I should start a thread for that... lol

                                            1. re: joonjoon

                                              Looking back, joon, you probably should. Or maybe it could be broadened a bit to Something like: "Pork's Misappreciated Products - Beyond Bacon." It could allow for discussions of pork roll, mortadella, Spam, scrapple, along with those you've already mentioned.

                                              Edit - It looks like I'm doing fried mortadella bites for the Super Bowl - couldn't get anybody to agree to try headcheese or liverwurst bites, so . . . .

                                          2. Personaly, I love it. However

                                            "Hitchhiker: (explaining to Franklin) See they make headcheese. They...they take the head...and they boil it. Except for the tongue...and they scrape all the flesh away from the bone. They use everything. They don't throw nothing away. They, they use the jaws, the muscles, and the eyes, and the ligaments and everything! " from the film Texas Chainsaw Massacre

                                            Infact, it the original title of the film was Headcheese

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: mike0989

                                              But the recipe for pork headcheese is different from human headcheese, don't forget.

                                            2. I love tongue and brawn; live in England, lived for many years in Germany, now spend part of each year in the States, where I cannot find tongue at all. Our local German deli/grocer has closed (I live in FL). On our most recent trip we searched desperately for tongue and/or brawn and on one foraging expedition my husband was firmly instructed to ask for head cheese. He found some in a new Polish restaurant/takeaway, where it came as jelly with large rather firm hunks of tongue embedded. Nice, but not what I was expecting.

                                              1. I'm with you on the glorious goop known as head cheese, joon. I prefer it to be warmer than straight from the deli though - a little time on the counter at home first. Good bread, maybe some onions and pickled hot peppers - make some little, open faced bites. It's not something that's gonna disappear fast at a party though.

                                                I once put a pretty thick slice on a piece of rye toast that I had slathered with some coarse mustard. I popped it under the broiler to "melt" a bit - messy as hell, but worth trying after a couple pints of porter.

                                                I was thinking it might even be pretty cool to bread/batter a couple thick chunks and deep fry 'em - we'll have to see about that one, maybe a honey-mustard dipping sauce?

                                                As to the best I've had, well, I'm gonna send you to European Provisions once again, my friend. I believe they still make their own and also offer a blood version.

                                                1. May I recommend Dittmer's in Los Altos, at their new location on the Peninsula. They carry a nice variety of headcheese among other gorgeous smoked meat and sausages.

                                                  1. I don't care for it, but my dad was quite fond of it having grown up on the farm. He told me they made if from the little bits and pieces of meat from the head (and other stuff). As I recall it was in a square loaf and seasoned with pepper and vinegar.

                                                    1. There seems to be a lack of differentiation on head cheese here.

                                                      I regard "head cheese" as hogs' heads trimmings chopped and boiled in the beasts' stomachs with seasonings to create a very large, firm, sliceable sausage with pork aspic. It may be plain or smoked. Paprika, either sweet or hot, may be incorporated.

                                                      The Blue Danube Sausage House in Toronto usually offers the variations as does the Honey Bear in Willowdale. Globowskis and Ideal Meats in Kitchener/Waterloo are also excellent.

                                                      A few years ago I encountered this new (to me) version of "brawn" as featured in this thread at Zehr's Country Market just south of Bayfield Ontario, on Hwy 21 - a Mennonite family operation. Seriously addictive.

                                                      4 Replies
                                                      1. re: DockPotato

                                                        I'm very excited by this info, as I usually visit Toronto, well Oakville, four times a year. I've made a note of this info and will try to get to one or more next time I'm there, probably this spring.

                                                        1. re: ppb

                                                          I neglected to lis another very good supplier - If you're in Oakville, or at Pearson, Balaton Meat Products is also very good and perhaps more convenient, ppb:


                                                          Of the 3 delis I've mentioned, although all are good, my strong preference is Blue Danube.

                                                          1. re: DockPotato

                                                            Thank you for this. The only Balaton Meats Google supplies is up near Vaughan though and I think the Blue Danube in Etobicoke will be closer. I'll try to get to all of them over time, though the one out in Bayfield may be a challenge. I'd really like to try that one!

                                                        2. re: DockPotato

                                                          Yes, I see what you mean about the different types after looking at a picture of the product from the Blue Danube: I and some others have been thinking of brawn -- jelly with more or fewer, larger or small bits of meat floating in it -- and others have been thinking of a firm, textured sausage that looks a bit like pressed ham. I suppose the regional differences developed over time.

                                                        3. My introduction to 'head cheese' was when I was about 1, and the father of a friend , who loved it and always called it "Souse," served it in strips which you dipped in vinegar - absolutely amazingly delicious!

                                                          1. I'm pretty sure what is sold here in the North East known as "Chip Chop Ham" is basically just head cheese. I think the only difference is that it's sliced like tissue-paper thin - hence the name. I guess that kind of helps hide the tougher gnarly bits.

                                                            I used to eat it all the time as a kid, until I got older and saw some TV segments on how head cheese was made and noticed the similarities. Now I won't touch the stuff. Grosses me out.