Headcheese – Not To Be Confused with Cheese Head

Headcheese – Not To Be Confused with Cheese Head

Here is the crowning achievement of ManBQue’s recent sausage-making class, a delectable European treat that is not a cheese at all, but rather pig head in aspic. If that doesn’t sound like a delicious treat to you, then you’re likely either a communist or a pinkie-out sausage dilettante who looks down on the peasant classes. SHAME!

There are quite a few ingredients here, so we wanted to clear up a couple of things. First off, you Chicagoans head to Olympia Meats for all of your pig head/tongue needs. Secondly, the Prague curing salt, which is vital to the process, is easily ordered here. Good luck and may the sausage gods (namely, character actor Brian Dennehy) favor your efforts.

Yield: 2 terrines or 2-3 sausages stuffed into 4″-5″ fibrous casings

The Setup

First Day:
1 pig head, split, brains and glands removed, excess jowl fat trimmed
5 lbs pig tongues
2 gal cold water
2 lbs Kosher salt
1 lb brown sugar
3 1/4 oz Prague #1 powder (pink curing salt)

Headcheese Day Part 1:
Brined Head
Brined Tongues
1/4 cup whole caraway seed
2 tbsp whole allspice berries
1/4 cup whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 bay leaves
3 tbsp dried marjoram
3 onions, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, cut in half
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

Headcheese Day Part 2:
4 oz Gelatin
tomato paste
3 quarts of strained cooking liquid – fat removed



1. Combine the water, salt and sugar over high heat. Stir until salt and sugar are dissolved into a suspension. Remove from heat.

2. When the liquid has cooled below 120 degrees, add the Prague powder.

3. When the liquid has completely cooled, inject the head and tongues with the solution.

4. Place the head and tongues into brine, weighing down if necessary to ensure they’re entirely covered. Leave to brine for three days.

5. Remove the head and tongues from brine and rinse under cold running water. Discard the brine.

6. Place the head and tongues in a large stock pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer, skimming thoroughly the entire time.

7. Add the spices, garlic, and celery, return to a simmer, and let cook 3 to 3 1/2 hours, until the head is incredibly tender.

8. Remove the head from the pot. Strain the liquid into a large bowl to reserve. Place in the refrigerator to draw remaining fat to the surface before you skim and remove it for the third part.

9. Remove the skin and meat from the skull. FUN PART!

10. Chop the head meat and tongue into 1/2″ – 1″ pieces and set aside.

11. Bloom the gelatin in 1 cup of water.

12. Test the cooking liquid for consistency by chilling an ounce of it in the refrigerator. It should firm to reasonable solidity in the refrigerator but still remain edible. Heat the 3 quarts of well-skimmed cooking liquid and add the paprika, cayenne, tomato paste, and salt to taste. Add some of the gelatin to the hot liquid, 1/8 cup at a time, and test again until the right consistency is reached. This is vital, as it’s the base of your entire end product. (If you’re having trouble visualizing this, then it’s a shame you didn’t come to our sausage class, and also a shame that we’re using this to rub it in like a jackass.)

13. Mix the gelled cooking liquid with the chopped meat and skin. Ladle into terrines lined with plastic wrap, or into large fibrous casings. Cover or tie off and chill 24 hours.

14. Remove and slice. Enjoy while giggling like a fat German child.