Garlic scapes, or garlic spears, represent the birth of a flower. They whip out of the tall garlic plant, curling and facing downward in crane-like grace, awaiting the moment of bloom. As a gardener and cultivator of garlic bulbs, I carry the painful duty of decapitating them, forcing the energy of the sun back underground. This difficult act obliges me to make what use I can from the heads, as I would an animal, such as a pig. Coupled with my recent attraction to Japanese flavors, I attempt to–and, pardon the pun–give a bit more body to these severed heads.
Impress your friends and buy a pig’s head. Invite them over when you turn it into cheese. Share beers and eat cured ham.
At the markets here in Seattle, head cheese can run you about $25/lb. So, if you prefer to buy yours already made, please do it. The torta will still be delicious and filling. But it will lack the wholesome tanginess, with such incredible and rich flavors, of this one.
For the adventurous or interested cook, making head cheese is a simple and rewarding endeavor. Plus, pound for pound, it is very cheap. I bought a 14-lb. head for $25. It makes about 6-7 lbs. Plus you get the bones leftover for soup or stock and pounds of fat you can render into lard. Compared to the markets, you’re getting an incredible deal.