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Brawn (Headcheese)

  • Author: Jill Baker
  • Yield: Serves 8


A splendid dish, a slowly cooked pig’s head, the flesh pulled from the skull and set in it’s own jelly; sliced thinly, a fine lunch. An ideal accompaniment is the Sorrel, Chicory, and Crispy Eat Salad.



1 Pig’s Head, cleaned thoroughly

4 Pig’s Trotters, cleaned thoroughly

2 Onions, peeled

2 Carrots, peeled

2 Leeks, cleaned

2 Stalks of Celery

2 Heads of Garlic, skin on

Zest of 2 Lemons

A healthy Splash of Red Wine Vinegar

A Bundle of Fresh Herbs, tied together

2 Bay Leaves

A Scant Handful of Black Peppercorns, tied in cheesecloth

Sea Salt


Place the head and trotters in a large pot, cover with water, and add all the other ingredients except salt. As soon as you have brought it up to a boil, reduce to a very gentle simmer, skimming as you go.

If using (for the salad accompaniment), extract the ears after about 1 hour, rinse them, and dry them carefully. When you can feel the cheek starting to come away from the bone (about 2 1/2 hours), remove everything from the liquor and discard the vegetables.

Return the liquor to the heat to reduce by about half, then season with salt, remembering this is served cold, which subdues flavors.

While still warm, puck through the trotters and pig’s head, retrieving the flesh, especially peeling the tongue. The snout is neither fat nor meat; do not be discouraged, it is delicious in your brawn.

Line your terrine with plastic wrap and fill with the retrieved meats. Pour in enough of the reduced liquor just to cover, slamming the mold on the kitchen counter to shake out any air bubbles.

Leave to set overnight in the fridge, and before you serve it, remove it in good time to acclimatize without being so warm it is soft and sweaty.


This excerpt is taken from The Whole Beast by Fergus Henderson, purchase the book here.