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

 

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.

img_20180305_1707188631153062920.jpg

Enjoy and Until next time!

Mrs. Kay L. Rice

 

 

Napolito Soup

The one thing I absolutely love about Autumn and Winter is that it is SOUP SEASON!

I can have soup every dinner and lunch and not get tired of it.  Luckily my husband enjoys it as well.

This is a favorite of mine because of the intense flavors and warmth.

These ingredients are in measurements that may or not be common to you as I home can everything in while it’s in season (except the cactus, I buy it from the Mexican grocery).

Ingredients

  • 1 sweet onion diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic diced
  • 1 quart of chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 2 jalapeno peppers diced
  • 1 pint of camned pork (you can also fry up 1/2 pound of fresh pork roast)
  • 1 half pint of tomatoes with jalapeno peppers
  • 1 quart of halved or whole tomatillos
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp of lime juice
  • 1 quart of canned napolitos (cactus) drained
  • 1 pint of white kidney beans
  • Fresh cilantro diced
  • 1 pint of hominy
  • 1 pint of yellow corn
  • 4 tbsp of corn flour
  • 2 quarts of water

Directions

  1. In a very large soup pot, melt your lard.
  2. Add your onion, garlic and diced jalapeno peppers.
  3. Cook until just a little “limp”.
  4. Add in your hominy and corn.
  5. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring with the onion mix.
  6. Add in your (cooked) pork.
  7. Cook for about 5 minutes stirring into the mix.
  8. Now add everything else EXCEPT the corn flour and cilantro.
  9. Cook soup on a low simmer for 2 to three hours.
  10. Taking about a cup of the broth out in a bowl, mix in your corn flour to make a roe (paste).
  11. Stir the corn paste into the soup.
  12. Let cook for another hour, stirring often so your paste doesn’t turn into corn marbles, if they do, just call them dumplings.
  13. Just before serving stir in a handful of cilantro.
  14. Serve and sprinkle a bit of fresh cilantro on top in the bowl for extra flavor.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we do.

Until next time,

Mrs. Kay L Rice 🌶️

Meal-Prepping 101: Beef Stew

Beef (or any meat) Stew

On February 16, 2017 at Quest Community Church, Westerville, Ohio, we will once again be joining together to work on our meal-prepping skills.  The second recipe for this class is a traditional Beef Stew (The first recipe, is Cranberry Chicken posted on 2/11/17 on this site).  Stew is a traditional standby in the Rice Household.  It is perfect for meal-prep as a freezer meal before and after being cooked.  If you enjoy canning, it can also be prepped in individual and family servings by using a PRESSURE CANNER (please see the post on this site for Turkey/Chicken Stew, under the canning and preserving page).  But I digress.  The nice thing about stew is that it can be made with pretty much anything you have on hand as well as tweaks here and there for what you like and what you don’t like.  Example: Some people my love parsnips, others may not, some people think you are weird putting in peas in a stew, some say oh that’s a must have.  My Grandma and Mom would refer to their stews as “refrigerator stew”, that meant anything left over from previous meals got thrown in a pot and cooked as soup/stew.  In short the “waste not want not” method of country cooking.

For our class on 2/16/17, I will be outlining the meal prep freezer way to put up stew before cooking, although here and there I will also outline other methods.  Ready?  Here we go!

Ingredients for each meal:

  • 1 lb of meat (beef, venison, pork, turkey, chicken…)
  • 1 1/4 cups diced onion (I prefer red onion but its your preference)
  • 2 tsps. (or 4 cloves) garlic, minced
  • 1 small can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons of Thyme
  • 1 cup of carrots diced/sliced (I like lots of carrots, so about 5 carrots sliced)
  • 2 cups of diced/sliced celery
  • 1/2 cups of frozen peas (do not get canned, they get squishy)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of APPLE CIDER Vinegar

Ingredients to be added the day of cooking:

  • 1 tsp of Sea Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 2 Cups of Broth (to match the meat you use)

Freezer Containers needed if freezing:

  • 1 quart freezer bag
  • 1 gallon freezer bag
  • Pen to write contents and cooking additions for day of cooking

BEFORE CLASS DIRECTIONS:

  • Label you large gallon freezer bag with the title of your recipe and date prepared:
    • example:  Beef Stew 2/16/17
  • Keep your quart freezer bag with your large gallon freezer bag.
  • Since we will be working with raw meat, please, make sure you keep your product fresh and sealed and COOL in transport to and from class and put in the freezer as soon as you return from class.  You also may want to prepare the meat and keep in your refrigerator at home and then add to your bag once you return from class.
  • Cube your meat into small pieces.  I will be using venison for my stew.
  • Make sure you trim off any grisly or large fat portions (and skin if poultry).
  • Put in your quart freezer bag and press out any air and keep cool.

Class Instructions:

  • If you brought the meat with you, keep cold in your cooler while we prep the rest of the items.
  • Chop all of your vegetables starting with your onion.  Add each to your gallon bag after you finish with them.
    • Side note here:  I also like to add things like parsnips, sweet potatoes, fresh beets, peppers, potatoes, spinach and frozen lima beans or black eyed peas.  I’ve even been known to throw in butternut squash cubes.
  • Add in your frozen peas (or other frozen veggies) to your bag.
  • Your bag is getting full now. Carefully add all of her herbs and shake so it flakes down over your veggies.
  • Add in your tomato paste and “squish” it through the bag.
  • Add in your Apple Cider Vinegar to your meat.
  • Now, we need to add our meat.  Since we have all these wonderful veggies in here, we do NOT want to taint them with raw meats!!!   Very carefully, put your meat in its bag sealed, in the large gallon bag on top of the veggies.  Meat is in the bag, but not touching your veggies.  If you cook your meats ahead of time, you can add them directly in the bag, however, your meat will be very shredded when you cook the stew (which is fine, its a texture thing).

NIGHT BEFORE COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Take out of the freezer and stand upright and thaw over night IN the refrigerator.

DAY OF COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Very carefully open your gallon bag and retrieve the meat bag.
  • Open the meat bag and dump the contents in the crock pot.
  • Dump the veggie/seasoning contents over the meat in the crockpot.
  • Add in your 2 cups of broth (to match the meat) to the crock pot.
  • Cook on low for 7-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
  • Add your salt and pepper before serving to retain flavor and not needing to re-add.

FREEZING AFTER COOKING:

Stews and soups are great for freezing left overs for other meal preps.  Put in a large gallon bag or in individual sized freezer safe containers and place level in your freezer.  You can reheat later in the microwave or stove top quickly because everything is already cooked.

CANNING AFTER COOKING:

I enjoy canning left over soups and stews in half pint jars individual servings that I can grab and go for work or for a quick lunch and dinner.  ALL SOUP and STEWS must be PRESSURE CANNED.  The rule of thumb is the amount of time for the longest pressure cooking standard ingredient.  Example:  Meat and beans must be canned (half pint or pint) for 75 minutes and quarts need to be canned for 90 minutes at a pressure of 11 lbs.  If you are unfamiliar with a pressure canner don’t make soup your trial run.

I look forward to seeing you all in class and for those who can not attend, I hope you enjoy this recipe, and let me know what you think.

Until Next Time,

Mrs. Kay Rice