Everything You Need to Know about Head Cheese
What is head cheese? Head cheese might just be the most misleading name for a food ever. Let me go ahead and tell you that there is no cheese involved. The “head” part of the name rings true, though – the use of that term comes from the fact that a whole pig’s head is used to make this stuff.
What Is Head Cheese?
Traditionally, head cheese is a cold cut that comes from the meat of a pig’s (or sometimes a calf’s) head. Nowadays, when pig’s heads aren’t so easy to come by, pig’s feet are commonly used. This part of the pig houses collagen from the skin, joints, and tendons which lends to nourishing qualities.
Are There Health Benefits?
Many people tout drinking bone broth for the healing properties – thanks in part to the collagen content. Head cheese can be beneficial in the same way. Collagen is the main structural component of various connective tissues in the body including tendons, ligaments, hair, nails, organs, cartilage, and vasculature.
As our body ages, the collagen in these connective tissues decreases. Our bones weaken, muscles atrophy, and skin and joints can become drier, thinner, and weaker. Consuming collagen-rich foods, like head cheese and bone broth, can help build healthier, stronger tissues. The collagen also helps the head cheese maintain its structure when it’s cooled.
How Is Head Cheese Made?
Mark Sisson, from Mark’s Daily Apple, has a great tutorial on how to make your own head cheese.
To make it, you’ll need:
Pig’s feet (or a whole head if you’re feeling adventurous)
Apple cider vinegar
Your choice of herbs and spices (commonly used spices include black pepper, onion, bay leaf, allspice, salt)
Pressure cooker or very large pot
9×13 cake pan, loaf pan, or terrine
How To Eat Head Cheese
After it’s made and sets up, you can cut the head cheese into squares and enjoy. Serve cold or at room temperature. Depending on how you choose to make it (whether you leave a lot of the meat in or take it out), the texture could be meaty or smooth like butter. Enjoy it like other charcuterie.
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