Pig’s Head: Day 1

Meat, Pork

When my grandfather told me that he was going to make scrapple, I had the immediate and reasonable urge to acquire a pig’s head.  Traditionally, he uses the head because of its beautiful fat content and industrial-strength gelatinous collagen.  But the lamentable fact is some parts of the animal are simply undesirable.  So he has accustomed himself to using the far-more-accessible feet, instead.  I recall several moments of him speaking about the enchanting properties of the pig’s head.  So, naturally, when I ordered the head from my butcher, I envisioned a gasp and a huge smile.  In return, however, I received a plain response of, “Please don’t.”  As it turned out, he had already purchased the feet and was not interested in keeping them or the head in the freezer.  That was understandable.  But now I have a 13.5-lb. pig’s head.  What to do?

Well, first, I and my fellow cooks removed it from the box.

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Notice the blue seal from the farmer. It says something about being inspected. Will it rinse off? Do we have to shave it?

Then we took a 5-gallon food-grade bucket, plopped the head into it and filled it with water.  We did this to rinse out any unwanted bits that might be in the cavities.  Plus we had to buy some time while we figured out what to do with it.  Confit it?  Turn it into head cheese?  Roast it?  There were a few requests by the more informed for the cheeks.  But what about the eyeballs and the snout?  The ears and mouth?

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The snout barely sits below the rim.

Meanwhile, I turn to my cookbooks.

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