RECIPE: Head Cheese

frankcJanuary 18, 2006

Have been making headcheese with porkhocks,bay leave and garlic.Sometimes chopped onion added.

Looking for variations. fRANK

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You don't use the head? I've never made it but that's how my step-mother said they made theirs.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 4:41PM
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Custodian, at school, where I taught, always made it for Christmas, and always brought some for the faculty party.
No thank you!!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2006 at 5:02PM
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We use a pork shoulder or boston butt roast, a few hocks, a few peppercorns, and salt. Add water to cover and simmer until meat is cooked through. Add onion cut into chunks and a garlic clove or two.

Simmer until the meat is falling apart tender.

Strain broth into a clean bowl. I use a strainer first then a couple of thicknesses of cheesecloth to make sure all bone chips/grit are removed.

As soon as it is cool enough to handle, sort through the solids and separate meat from bone/skin/fat. Throw away the bone/skin/fat.

Pass the meat only through a meat grinder. We pass it through a coarse blade twice. Mix the ground meat with the strained broth. If you like a "chunky" style, you could cube the meat instead of grinding it, or cube some and grind some. We like ours pretty meaty and not as jelly, but it is personal preference.

Ladle into clean containers and chill. It can be frozen with good results as long as it is well wrapped.

We make this basically for christmas. I am not a huge fan, I have a small piece with salt and vinegar on it 'for luck'. Some eat it with salt and vinegar, other with sweet pickles or baby sour dills.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 1:16PM
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Like Ginger, any headcheese I've had was made with the head of the pig when we butcher. Since we grow our own pork and beef, we don't usually waste anything if we can help it. Thankfully, we now have someone else do the cutting and packing and I'm no longer confronted with that boiling head in a pot.

I might actually be able to eat it if it were made from another part, like boston butt, although I'm not sure it's still conventional headcheese. Of course, that still is a better name, I suppose, than "butt cheese". LOLOLOL

Dances, when you make it at Christmas, does it still "congeal" enough to slice it like luncheon meat? Grandpa always told me that was why it was made from the head, all the collagen in the skull bones made it "set up".


    Bookmark   January 23, 2006 at 1:43PM
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Somewhere I have seen a "sterile" sort of version of head cheese using shoulder and Knox gelatin to help it set up....not the same!
I love good head cheese, but haven't had it in years....when I was a kid it was always part of the standard deli platter, along with braunschweiger, Lebanon balogna etc.
Linda C

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 10:56AM
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Thanks for all the comments. Lindac,you dont need any gelatin.I cook it down,and if I dont watch it will almost be rock hard. Pork hocks is what I use, Dances- will look at pork shoulder to add tot he hocks.That should jell as well. fRANK

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 12:04PM
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The shoulder won't gel as something with a lot of bones/cartilage to jhell without gelatin, and the hocks provide that.
The head cheese I used to get had lots of spicy gelatin around the bits of meat...

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 3:00PM
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The shoulder does not provide the jell, but two small hocks to a pot provides more than enough jell for slicing. It gets very firm. My grandparents would use split feet, but I can never find those.


We burn off any hair from the outside of the hocks. You can do this over any flame, I use a blow torch (ala creme brulee, that thing has to earn its keep rofl!). If the skin gets black, scrape as much of the burnt off as you can with a serrated knife. I find with the torch that the skin toasts, the hair burns off, and I don't have to scrape much.

This gives it a whole new dimension of flavour. Smokey but not SMOKED if that makes any sense.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2006 at 5:24PM
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:::::running away with my hand over my mouth:::::::::

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 3:57PM
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I am looking for a recipe to make a slightly altered version of Headcheese. My Grandpa and My Dad used to make something called PRESSMA. It is pretty muchthe same as headcheese accept it is pressed flat with a board. It isn't red either, it is grey(cooked pork) and has no jelly, although there is a little bit of white fat in the mixture and lots of garlic. The meat was ground very fine and they would place it into 4" or 5" plastic casing and then press it flat.

Does anybody know or have a recipe or some advice regarding this. I would like to make some soon.

Thanks for listening.


    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 1:01AM
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This is how my mother makes headcheese (I remember her making this every time the pigs got slauthered). While growing up on a farm, she watched her mother make this dish. She says itÂs a lot of work, but itÂs worth it! Spread the headcheese on toast, or cut in little pieces and serve it as a side dish.

1 pig head, sawed in half
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves

You will need a sharp pointed knife (a fishing knife works well). First remove the ears by cutting deep inside the cavity. To remove the eyes, itÂs best to cut the skin around it first, then grab the skin and eye  carefully cut around and deep. Remove the brain, glands, snout, gums  as much as you can. Brush the teeth with a toothbrush. Remove the skin and excess fat. You can use the tongue  wash well, and remove the skin from the tongue after itÂs cooked.

Place in a large roasting pan. Cover with water. Cook for 2 hours, partially covered, on top of the stove. (Add more water if necessary.)

Remove all the bones and put the meat through a meat grinder with the onion and garlic (and tongue, if using). Add mixture to the reserved broth. Add seasonings and cook, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes on low heat. The broth will gel your meat when cooled. Put in a container and refrigerate.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 10:42AM
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I believe it was on "Feasting on Asphalt" where I saw that it is now a Federal law that commercial sellers of head cheese can no longer make it from the head. It has to come from other parts of the body. Of course if you are making it for your own consumption, anything goes.

Beverly.........running to keep up with Shaun.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2007 at 8:55PM
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I make mine cajun style.....with pork butts, fresh pork skin, onions, green onions, parsley, cayenne pepper, black pepper, salt, and the secret ingredient..........VINEGAR. Add some vinegar to your taste the last 15 minutes of cooking. The vinegar will kick it up several notches. Try will pleasantly surprised.


    Bookmark   September 22, 2007 at 9:41PM
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Thanks for the recipe BUT I'm running away with my hand over my mouth too.........

    Bookmark   September 26, 2007 at 6:45PM
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I remember this was made when Dad butchered a hog ... I wouldn't eat the head cheese, but I did eat something we called liver hash also made from the freshly butchered pork ... I think it also used the heart, lungs and other scraps. Anyone know what I'm talking about?

    Bookmark   September 27, 2007 at 5:28PM
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sorry i'm so late. i use a head when i can get it, but i can always make it from the "bits" from the local Asian market (or if you don't live near one of those, a local butcher?). i use pork ears, snouts, tongue, and then the trotters for the gelatin (they have brains some times, too, but i haven't tried them yet). then simmer the heck out of it and cool and take out the bones. (i like the straining idea cuz i always miss a toe bone or two.) i like mine chunky so i just roughly chop up the bits. i chill the broth at least overnight so i can get rid of the fat, then i mix the broth with the meat and season with vinegar, garlic, paprika, red chili flakes, powdered chili pepper, black pepper, and salt. chill and then there's usually little more fat to discard. slice and enjoy!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 12:18PM
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CA Kate

Dan, when you add vinegar it's called Souse.... in German.

I like the Head Cheese we find at the German or Polish Deli. I don't think I have the stomach to make it from the actual head.... tongue I can do, but the head.... nope!

    Bookmark   June 23, 2009 at 1:05PM
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Hi Franke: My mom used to make head cheese with the pork hocks, bay leaf, garlic and onion. I have been trying to find the recipe of this. Could you please supply me with how much of everything that you use. It would be most appreciated. I really loved this.....Grace

    Bookmark   June 27, 2009 at 12:56PM
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My gradma use to make head cheeseAnd I loved it. I tried and I think I come very close, I cook the head and add pork hocks to make it go farther. I take the meat off the bone when it's cool enough. I grind up the meat. Add salt & pepper and chopped sauted onions. A little garlic powder. I put the meat in large roaster and heat in oven. I then wrap up meat in cheese cloth and towel, wind tight. Put on plate, another plate on top with a heavy rock. I do this in winter so I can keep over night on our closed in porch.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2011 at 12:12AM
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I use the pork hock or pork ham unsmoked, take off any hair and wash well put in a pot cover with water I love onions so add lots of those. also lots of garlic and salt and pepper,and a tablespoon or two of vinegar Simmmer till meat falls off the bone, take meat out of juice wait till cool and chop fine or put through a meat grinder or food proccessor if you like it fine,. add back to the juice. if you find that your head cheese is too watery I usually add an envelope or two of plain geletin.' helps to set.
by the way i use the skin and fat as well when grinding as it has lots of flavor. will freeze well, hope you enjoy it like I do

    Bookmark   April 2, 2011 at 9:15PM
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most of the head cheese recipes says to add pigs feet to make the gelatin so it becomes hard enough to slice.I wanted to make a head cheese using the neck of a moose.I am wondering instead of pigs feet can I use moose feet?Is there enough collagen to make it "set"?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 8:56AM
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CA Kate

There are a lot of complicated things I do - at least once - just for the adventure of it, but this time I think I'm with the Running Group. I'll buy our Head Cheese from the German Deli next time I'm in Woodland Hills. (California) ;-)

    Bookmark   April 7, 2014 at 11:16AM
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