3.28 – Pig’s Head Revisited

An impromptu visit to the Meat Hook on Valentine’s Day resulted in my impulse purchase of another pig’s head.  Last Memorial Day’s attempt at Head Cheese still breaking my heart, I wanted to prove my ability to at least make something with a pigs head that people would enjoy eating, even if it isn’t head cheese per se…

My plan was to turn my head into a 3-course meal of terrine, pigs ear salad, and a head grits casserole (a Resch-style take on scrapple).  Unfortunately Tom Mylan sold every expendable part off my piggy (guanciale & tongue) leaving me only enough meat for ears and grits – so I amended my menu to instead attempt pate; marking my first foray into cooking with liver.

The Menu:
>> Appetizers:
Pate of calf and chicken liver with balsamic on baguette
Deviled Eggs with spring chives
Melon wrapped in prosciutto

>> Main Course:
Bleu cheese salad with fried pigs ear
Raspberry Razzle (a childhood favorite and guest request)
Head chili cheese grits casserole

>> Dessert:
Caramel Bread Pudding a la mode

Pate of calf and chicken liver with balsamic on baguette
1 cup whole milk
1 lb fresh chicken liver
1 lb fresh calves liver
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
4 bay leaves
1/4 cup brandy

2 sticks unsalted, room-temperature butter
16 oz (2 bricks) softened cream cheese
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (plus more to serve)
Salt and pepper to taste

Place liver and milk in a large bowl and let soak in the fridge at least 8 hours or over night.  Drain well.

Heat olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion until it begins to brown and add livers, thyme and bay leaves.

Cook livers about 5 minutes until slightly pink, then add Brandy (away from the flame) and let cook another 5 minutes until livers are cooked through.

Pour livers and sauteed onion onto a large plate and let cool to room temperature.  Remove bay leaves and discard.

Pour contents of plate into a food processor.  Add butter, cream cheese, balsamic, salt and pepper and process until fine.  Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Line a loaf pan with a few layers of plastic wrap allowing plenty to hang over the sides.  Spoon pate into pan and tap on counter to release air bubbles.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate over night.

To serve, spread on baguette.  Drizzle with good balsamic and/or pureed apple.

Head Chili Cheese Grits Casserole
1 pigs head,* brined, braised, and pulled into bite-sized pieces
8 cups water
2 small green chilies, diced finely (or one small can)
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 cups yellow corn grits (I prefer vs hominy, but whatever you have, just not quick cooking!)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, reserve 1/2 cup to top the casserole
1 cup sour cream

*If you don’t have a pigs head readily available, a shoulder will work (bone in picnic) or just fry up a pound of good pork sausage (minus casing) and crumble into grits

In a larger pot, combine water, chilies, salt, pepper and garlic powder and bring to a boil.  Over medium-high heat, add grits, pouring through a fork to prevent lumps and stir constantly until all liquid is absorbed and grits are the consistency of thick porridge.

Turn off heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese, sour cream, and meat, till cheese is melted through.

Pour into a 4.5 quart Pyrex baking dish and top casserole with remaining cheese.

Cover and bake at 300 for 1/2 hour, or a full hour if taking it from the fridge cold. You can also slice cooled grits and fry like french toast.

Serve with hot sauce.

Caramel Bread Pudding (a birthday surprise)
1 loaf bead, challah or brioche, cut or ripped into 1/2″ pieces
1 cup cream
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup dulce de luche (or caramel sauce, like you’d put over ice cream)
2 cups milk
2 whole eggs + 2 egg yolks
Splash of vanilla
1 cup Raisins (optional)

Tear bread into bit sized pieces, like you would to make stuffing, and place in a large mixing bowl.  Toss in 1 cup raisins if desired.

In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, simmer cream, brown sugar and salt until sugar is dissolved and cream just starts to bubble.  Make sure to stir constantly or it will scorch.

Turn off heat and stir in dulce de luche sauce until fully combined, set aside to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl (large enough to hold at least 5 cups liquid, combine eggs, yolks, vanilla, and milk.  Mix into cooled caramel mixture and pour combined liquids over the bread.  Toss to combine, and set aside  for 1-2 hours to soak, pressing down with a spatula every so often to ensure that all bread has soaked up the liquid.

Pre-heat oven to 325, and set a kettle on the stove to boil 2 cups water.

Butter a medium-sized casserole dish and fill with bread/liquid mixture.  Spread evenly and place in a high-sided pan.  Place pan in oven, then carefully pour boiling water into the outside pan about 1″ up the sides of the casserole to create a water bath.  This will steam the pudding and keep it moist as it bakes.

Bake for 45-55 minutes until you can smell the caramel and the center of the casserole is firm but still gives a bit.

Let cool about 20 minutes and serve with vanilla ice cream, and more dulce de luche as desired.

The Results

“Your pate, somehow, managed its way into my dream last night.  Sooooo good.”


Danielle “anti-jello” Aadsen, going in for a second helping of Raspberry Razzle…


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