Asian Inspired Brawn (Amazing Head Cheese)

Another favorite thing to do with an overabundance of piggy parts is to make this Asian-inspired brawn. If I call it tête de fromage or souse, no one knows what I’m talking about, and “headcheese” puts people right off, so brawn it is. This recipe is modified from the one for souse in Tim Byres’ inspirational cookbook, Smoke, but the Japanese and Chinese ingredients take it in a whole different direction.

Recipe by Laurance Mate

Found at the awesome Facebook Group The Salt Cured Pig

For the brine:
One whole pig’s worth of head (with jowls), hocks, and trotters (approx. 20 lbs)
1.5 gallons of water
300g salt
25g cure #1
200g palm sugar with ginger

For the pickle:
2 bottles mirin
1 quart cider vinegar
water to cover
1 bunch celery, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 white onion, quartered
1 bunch parsley
6 bay leaves
4 oz Dijon mustard
¼ cup white peppercorns
2 Tb whole coriander
2 Tb Szechuan peppercorns
12 whole cloves
6 star anise
1 cinnamon stick

For the final mix:
2 quarts of pickle, reduced to 1 qt
2 bunches parsley, chopped
4 oz hot Chinese mustard
4 oz soy sauce or as needed for sodium
6 oz Sake
6 oz rice wine vinegar

Heat the water to dissolve the salts and sugar. When cooled, add the head, hocks, and trotters, and soak for at least a week, refrigerated, jiggling or stirring the brine once a day. (Since it’s roughly an equilibrium cure, two weeks or more won’t hurt.)

Drain off the brine and put the piggy parts in a stock pot with all the pickle ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the meats are falling-apart tender, approx 4 hours. Strain the pickle, saving 2 quarts to reduce for binding the headcheese.

When the meats are cool, coarsely shred all the skin and meat into a bowl, and mix in the other ingredients, bit by bit, to taste. If the meat is a little undersalted, salt the reduced pickle enough to compensate.

Pack the meats gently into loaf pans lined with cling film (this makes it much easier to remove when set) and pour in enough of the reduced pickle to come up to the top. Refrigerate until set, then slice and enjoy!

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8 Responses to Asian Inspired Brawn (Amazing Head Cheese)

  1. Glad you liked this enough to share!

  2. That looks delisious, thanks for sharing.

  3. valbjerke says:

    I grew up eating headcheese made with pork hocks and beef brisket, carrots and spices (allspice berries being the hardest to find when I’m out). Still make it to this day – only one in the house that eats it 😊 Love it on toast for breakfast.

    • o my.. a mi of pork hock and beef brisket sounds really good.. I do not think I have had that combo yet but the flavours would work really well.. like it on toast to but love it on thick fresh bread, hot mustard and tons of sweet type crunch greens or pickle as well

  4. J > I only know the word Braun : which is one of the things I associate with my childhood. Thanks for what to me is a very new take on a very old favourite. Just a pity that D cannot bear the even the thought of it. : ~(

    • Funny, I had only know it as headcheese from my own family and I had a harder time with it as a child.. my mom would slice the bread thick, with keens hot mustard and butter and then slice the braun thin and pile high the fresh garden lettuce.. it was and still is my favorite way to eat it

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