Hog Head Cheese
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Credit: Jennifer Hill Booker
National Culinary Review, November 2021
From the Chef
“This truly Southern dish, also known as souse, takes its lead from the French terrine. Hog head cheese closely resembles pâté—minus the gelatin, which isn’t needed since the pork bones cook down into a flavorful collagen that binds tender pieces of pork with bright herbs and spices.”
1 large hog head, brain removed, about 10 pounds
4 large onions, peeled and quartered
8 large garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 cup cider vinegar
1. Clean hog head by removing eyes and any remaining bristles.
2. In an extra large stock pot, bring the hog’s head, onions, garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, vinegar and enough cold water to cover by 2 inches to a rolling boil.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until meat is falling off the bones, about 3 hours.
4. Allow meat to cool in the cooking liquid until able to handle with bare hands.
5. Pick the meat off the bones, chopping the meat and cooked onions to desired consistency. Reserve 2 to 3 cups of cooking liquid and discard the bones.
6. Pour reserved cooking liquid into meat and onion mixture. Add vinegar, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and sage to taste.
7. Pour meat and spice mixture into large 9 -x 12-inch pans and allow to cool refrigerated overnight.
8. Once chilled, cut the hog head cheese into squares and serve with saltine crackers or slices of white bread.
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