What are the best tips for making head cheese?

Calf’s foot jelly.

Making cheese can sometimes be a complicated and unpleasant process, but there are a few things that both novices and experts can do to simplify the process. Anyone who buys meat should buy it already cleaned to avoid the complicated process of removing the organs from the skull. Making cheese in your head usually takes a lot of time, so patience is also key.

A brine brings more flavor to the head cheese.

Some may not find it unpleasant to clean a pig’s head to make cheese, but the process can take a long time, whether the person has butchery experience or not. Those who don’t own pigs but still want to make cheese for their heads can benefit by spending a little more money on a pre-cleaned head. These pieces are already stripped of skin, eyes, tongue and brain. The only meat normally left on a clean pig’s head is muscle tissue.

Those who wish to include hocks, tongue and other organ meats in their head cheeses may want to purchase them already cleaned and ground. The meat in the pig’s head, when boiled, will normally form a very tender, gelled meat, similar to bulk sausage. Buying additional meats, already ground, usually saves the cook some work in the long run.

Cooks new and experienced in making cheese from scratch should not skip any steps in the process. Choosing not to brine the meat can result in a tasteless, tasteless head cheese. The brine usually contains water, salt, and sometimes some pickling spices. Soaking the head in this mixture for at least 12 hours infuses salt and enhances the meat’s natural flavors.

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Boiling your head for the right amount of time is usually very important. Proper timing usually ensures that about 95% of the meat separates from the skull, eliminating the need to scrape or pull the meat off the bone. Most heads require up to four hours of boil time, although a very large head may require an additional hour or more. The cook can create their own broth to boil the head or buy pre-made chicken or vegetable broth.

The head should fit into the boiling pot with at least 3 or 4 inches (about 6 to 8 cm) to spare. This normally allows the liquid in the pot to boil continuously without bringing the mixture to a boil. If it boils, the cook must add more liquid to the pot because the head must be covered by the liquid during the entire boiling process.

The broth should thicken as the head boils and reach a consistency much like liquid soap or fine honey. If it doesn’t thicken after about two and a half hours of cooking, adding a handful of gelatin powder can speed up the process. Once the head is boiling, the cook can usually remove the skull, which should be meatless, and pipe the mixture into sausage casings 4 to 6 inches (about 8 to 12 cm) in diameter. The head cheese must then cool for at least 12 hours after packaging.

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