Staring Failure in the (roasted) Face

OK. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong. From forgetting to light the oven to running out of foil. By Sunday night I was wibbling in the corner guzzling gin. This has not gone well.

I carried out my plan to roast the head slowly in a tent of foil and boil up the ears and trotters separately. Once I actually lit the oven, the roasting went well, I cooked it at GM 4 for about 4 hours and here she is looking, ummm …..

I was a bit anxious about it being cooked properly so I used a meat thermometer to test the internal temperature. Hugh says pork should be between 70 and 75 degrees, our little friend was about 85 so maybe it was over cooked (sigh)

While the head was cooking I made the stock, onions, herbs  etc plus trotters and ears. I boiled it for roughly 3 hrs. The recipe I had called for the ears to be chopped and added to the head meat but when I looked at them they’re 100% cartlidge and I really don’t fancy eating cartlidge so I left them out. I dismantled the trotters trying to locate some meat but didn’t find any so they were discarded too.

Once the head had cooled enough to handle I started to pick the meat off. Slicing the cheek off a pig’s face is an odd sensation and I could feel my sensibilities teetering but being northern and made of sterner stuff I ploughed on. Now I feel like I could dismember a body in the bath without blinking. The meat was all located on the cheeks and down the side of the snout, everything else was fat, skin and bone. The texture of the cheek meat was very odd, the fat and meat couldn’t really be separated as the fat seemed to run right through the meat fibres.

Here’s the remains after I’d sliced and poked about. I haven’t fitted it with a handy handle, that’s the kettle in the background.

I was very disappointed with the amount of meat that came off it, people in the past must have been exceptionally poor and desperate to go to this amount of trouble for such a tiny amount of meat. Added to which my stock was very disappointing too, it completely failed to set which is very odd considering that my normal chicken stock sets fine. Ange has told me she’s had more success with trotter stock but mine was hopeless. I do however, have a load of rendered fat from the head so I’m wondering whether to abandon brawn and go for rilettes instead. This is the trouble with blogging as I go along, I can’t get to the end and pretend it was what I intended to make in the first place!

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9 Responses to Staring Failure in the (roasted) Face

  1. gutting! i had such high hopes for the head.

    on the up side i have been making lush roast potatoes and chips (well, chip shaped roast potatoes really) using the lard rendered out of my roasts.

  2. gutting! i had such high hopes for the head.

    on the up side, i have been making lush roast potatoes with my lard.

  3. I’ve just finished making the rilettes, we’re having them for tea with crusty bread. I’m hoping tomorrow’s post will be called “Snatching victory from the (roasted) jaws of defeat”

  4. felicity prior says:

    Like your writing style. It’s very readable.
    I am sure if you had half a pigs head you could make use of the tongue and gain access to the brain if you wanted it. What are pork pies made of ?

  5. I think I forgot to mention, the tongue from my head (I mean the pigs’s head, mine’s still present and correct) was missing. The original brawn recipe called for the tongue meat, I guess to bulk about the cheeks. Not sure about pork pies to be honest, I assumed it was normal pork? I think next time we could ask for the cheeks to be filleted off the heads, my Mum tells me pork cheeks are becoming a fashionable cut in the restaurants of Warrington!

  6. dcfnewslettereditor says:

    Pork cheeks are extremely de rigueur and used by many of the fancy chefs…apparently they produce a wonderful flavour, but I wonder whether it’s more to do with getting their profit margins up by using cheap meat…call me sceptical!

    Loved the idea of an easy carry pigs head, made me laugh out loud literally. Shame about the brawn results, but rilette can be scrummy too. A++ for effort, A++ for blogging, daren’t mark the brawn/rilette results that’s your prerogative. Don’t forget the taster! Cheers – Carol

  7. The rillettes are amazing, there’s a bit of gelatine stock in there so I could call them brillettes (Brawn/rillettes crossed, y’see what I did there?) I’ll blog it tomorrow.

  8. Pingback: Livestock Blog, a must read if you happen to have a pigs head languishing in your freezer with no clue of how to cook it! | Diss Community Farm

  9. dcfnewslettereditor says:

    Brillettes get michelin start rating from the Kirkup household…delicious really savoury full of flavour . No need to worry now if my brawn goes belly up, brillettes will save the day.

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