Head Cheese

I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine who raises pigs.  As most of my conversations go, it turned to food.  One of the topics that came up was Head Cheese, looking for a good recipe and the appreciation of this odd concoction.  My grandpa made this after butcher season so I offered to post the process on how to make it the way I know how to make it.

Keep in mind I love pickled pigs feet, scrapple, fried pig skins and other deliciousness of the hills.  Making head cheese is a long drawn out process, but isn’t that the way with anything good?

Okay, so here we go.  I am not going to include pictures because I do not have access to a fresh butchered pig right now, and some of my readers may be grossed out a tad with the process.

First and foremost after the main butchering of the hog is done, comes the head prep.  There are no real rules to this and its done many ways.  The head should be cut in half to make it fit in your boiling pot (outside) a little better.  Hog’s heads are very large.

DAY ONE

The pig’s face needs cleaned (shaved) of random bits of whiskers.  Pigs have very course whiskers.  Clean the pig ears inside and out (yes pigs get ear wax too), grossed out yet?  You will be.  Next are the trotters, otherwise known as the feet and hocks.  Pigs feet are gross, yup, they wallow and step in everything and honestly uncleaned pigs feet STINK.  While trotters are cleaned immediately following butchering, especially if the plan is to make some pickled pigs feet and hocks, they still are gross.  It’s the feet that gives head cheese the thick gel, but you don’t want your cheese to smell like wet locker socks.  To take care of that rinse the feet in hot water to get rid of the ‘juice’.  Next boil a pot of water with some white vinegar.  Blanch the pigs feet for a minute or two and rinse them with cold water, repeat 3 to 4 times.  At this time you’ll notice the wet sock smell will be gone.  Very fresh trotters may not need this much prep, depends on your hog and how you’ve butchered it or had it butchered.

Now on to the fun stuff.  I remember this being done outside in a big boil pot.  Combine your brine in the pot:

  • 2 gallons of water
  • 2 cups of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of Pink Salt (processing salt used for headcheese)

Simmer your brine and cool.  Place the head and trotters in the brine to sit overnight.

DAY TWO

Rinse off the brine thoroughly.  I will tell you that the final product will retain quite a bit of salt.

Head cheese is one of those, use what you have type things so I’m going to list some basic items to include.

  • water
  • leeks/ramps
  • onion
  • parsley
  • garlic
  • peppercorns
  • bay leaves
  • nutmeg
  • allspice
  • vinagar

Put everything back in your large pot to cook for 4 hours.  All the flavors will meld together throughout the process.

Maintain a simmer in the pot.  Again, this should be done outside over an open fire, the smoke will lend to the final flavor.

After 4 hours the jawbone should easily separate from the rest of the skull.  The liquid should have a golden hue to it.  Drain the golden liquid out and set in the refrigerator to sit overnight (this will create your jelly).

Next, get comfy, because you are in for a lot of picking and sitting.  Put on some gloves, and once the head and trotters are cooled down enough to handle, spread out a place to pick all the meat off the head and trotters.  Spread your head and trotters out to cool, if you put the in another pot, they will only stay hot.

What to shred and keep is always up for discussion.  However, things like the eyes should be discarded.  The tongue, take out and skin and set it aside wrapped in the refrigerator.  Pull the meat first, you should have plenty to not worry about adding any of the skin or fat.

At the end of the day, cover the pork meat and put in the refrigerator.

DAY THREE  (I told you this was a long process)

Pull out your broth.  It should be gelatin, under a layer of pork fat.  Scrape off the pork fat.  This isn’t as easy as it sounds because the gelatin isn’t very firm.

Heat your gelatin on the stove until it becomes liquid again.  Strain the liquid using a micro-weave cheesecloth this pulls out any impurities.

After straining the liquid, put it back on the burner until it’s reduced by a third.  This takes a while so you can turn your attention to the meat mixture.

Take your pieces of pork and add the seasonings you like.  This is always up for taste.  I remember the seasoning being sage, rosemary and thyme with a little red pepper.  But that is up to you.  Mix your seasoning with your pork with gloves on.  Shred larger pieces as you mix through the meat, keep the fat that is with the meat.

Taste your gelatin once it’s reduced.  If it needs more salt, add it here.  You might also need to add a touch of vinegar, but that’s to taste and preference.

Remember the tongue that was set a side?  Take it out and cube it up.  You can always saved some for sandwiches.  Add in the cubed tongue meat to the pork bits, stir in.

Line your bread loaf pans with clear wrap (you’ll need a several bread loaf pans).  Make sure you use enough to cover the bottom, sides and plenty to wrap over the top.

Now pack in bread loaf pans.  Do not pack super tight, loose but full.  Tap down to where there isn’t much space between bits.

Pour your gelatin mixture over the pork bits in the pans.  Cover with the clear wrap over the top.

Put in the refrigerator to cool.

DAY FOUR

The next day you go to the fridge and there you have it.  Head cheese.

headcheese

It can bee eaten plain, on bread, on crackers, as a sandwich.

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

Cherry Chipotle Pepper Chicken

One of my favorite fruit choices is Black Cherries.  The ultimate sweet treat in the early summer months.  I love them raw, in desserts, over yogurt and cottage cheese, in jams and with chicken.  Wait! What?  Yes, you read that correctly, fruit goes extremely well with meat and cherries really take on a whole new flavor mixed with the smokiness of the chipotle pepper (a smoked jalapeno pepper) and chicken.

I’ve taken this dish to many pot-lucks and served as meals for friends and it always gets rave reviews.  I hope you like it!

Cherry Chipotle Pepper Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of chicken breasts or mixed chicken meat.
  • One pound of ripe black cherries, pitted and sliced.
  • 1 cup of French salad dressing (yup you read that right)
  • 4 fresh cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 packet of dried French onion soup mix (however, I choose to make my own using a bouillon cube of the type of meat I’m using, boiled with a small onion)
  • In true Rice Household fashion 1/2 teaspoon of dried Chipotle Pepper Flakes

Directions:

  1. Dice your chicken into large chunks.
  2. Spray your crock pot with a no stick spray, or grease with your choice of grease.  I use a casserole style crock pot for this recipe.
  3. Scatter your chicken in the crock-pot.
  4. Add in your garlic and your french onion soup mix.
  5. Add in your french salad dressing and stir ingredients together.
  6. Add in your chipotle pepper flakes and stir in.
  7. Now add in your cherries.  If you are using canned (I can mine when they are in season), do not use the juice, only the fruit.  Save the juice to enjoy later.
  8. Mix the cherries through the mix.
  9. Place the lid on your crock-pot.  Turn on low or medium depending on the way your crock-pot heats (mine runs hot).
  10. Cook for 5 – 6 hours in the crock pot or until the meat is completely done.
  11. Serve over rice.

Enjoy!

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Lynn Rice

 

One Skillet Dinner: Rice, Beans and Pork

Dinner doesn’t have to be a major production.  I am a true believer in keeping it simple and using what is on hand.  Recipes that have a ton of ingredients that you will only use once, are wasteful and frustrating.

I keep my pantry stocked with basics that I can go to in a pinch, beans, rice and canned meat & stock (I pressure can my own) are always on my shelves.  I keep diced onions in the freezer for a quick go to as well.

Here is a simple one skillet meal that really sticks to your ribs and is so easy to prepare.  Nothing fancy, even the name is as simple as it gets:

Rice, Beans and Pork

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of rice (not cooked)
  • 1 cup of pork (or chicken) broth
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 four/eight ounce jar of mushrooms (depending how much you like mushrooms, or not at all if you don’t)
  • one small onion diced
  • 1 tablespoon of lard or butter
  • 2 cups of shredded pork or chicken (or canned, I use my own canned pork)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1/4 tsp of parsley
  • 1/4 tsp of thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Hot sauce (Optional)

Directions:

  1. In a deep skillet, melt your lard/butter.
  2. add in your onion and garlic and cook until limp.
  3. Add in your mushrooms with juice.
  4. Add in your Rice, stir in with the base until well mixed.
  5. Add in your Broth and meat.
  6. Add in your beans.
  7. Add in water and cover the skillet and let cook until MOST of the water is soaked up by the rice.  (use a medium heat)
  8. Add in your parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.
  9. Continue to cook while “folding” ingredients until the rice is tender. Be very careful not to scorch your rice!
  10. Dish up and serve, adding hot sauce to your liking.

This dish also is great as leftovers for a quick lunch or meal on the run.

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Enjoy and Until next time!

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

Cheeseburger Casserole

A simple recipe that kids and adults will love.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic diced
  • 4 ounces diced roasted pablano peppers or green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons of steak sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • Ground Pepper
  • Hand full grated pepper jack cheese
  • Hand full grated chedder cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup biscuit mix

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Spray deep dish pie dish with no stick spray
  3. In a skillet, brown onions and garlic with hamburger.
  4. Add to meat mix the steak sauce, salt, pepper and roasted peppers.
  5. Drain off grease.
  6. Put meat mix in deep dish pie dish.
  7. Put cheeses on the browned meat, keep a little cheese to the side.
  8. In a small bowl, whip the milk and eggs until well mixed.
  9. Add in biscuit mix and fold until no lumps.
  10. Pour on top of the meat and cheese.
  11. Bake for 20 minutes.
  12. Pull out and sprinkle remaining grated cheese on crust.
  13. Finish baking for 5 minutes.
  14. Serve.

Enjoy!

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice

One Skillet Meals: ‘Fried’ Chili

Every now and then, dinner time sneaks up on you out of nowhere and you have nothing prepared.  One Skillet Meals ate great for times like these.

This recipe is great for no time preparation.

One Skillet “Fried” Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of chorizo sausage
  • 1 cup of rice (dry)
  • 1 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 quarter small onion diced
  • 1 8 ounce jar/can of diced tomatoes with jalapeno peppers
  • 1 can of black beans rinsed
  • 1 can of whole corn rinsed
  • Shredded cheese

Directions

  1. In a large deep skillet brown and separate your sausage.  Do not drain off the drippings.
  2. Add your onion brown a tad.
  3. Add in your dry rice.
  4. Stir while adding your water.
  5. Put a lid on your skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add in the tomatoes with jalapeno peppers, the black beans and the corn.
  7. Stir in.
  8. Cover and simmer for another 15 minutes or until the liquid is not visible and your rice is soft.
  9. Dish up and serve with a sprinkling of grated cheese.

Enjoy! 🌶️

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice