I’m going to start this entry off with a little anecdote, the sort of which the masterchef producers seem particularly fond of. You see, when I was a kid, I never liked pork- in fact, it wasn’t until I first got into cooking at the age of 21 that I realised pork could be served in a fashion distinct from the charred, chewy chops my mum used to dish up. My first mouthful of tender, soft still-pink pork was a revelation, and since then I have dedicated countless hours toward discovering the best methods of preparing this excellent meat.
With this in mind, I decided to venture toward the final, horrifying frontier of preparing pork – cooking its head.
Actually, technically, I suppose the final frontier would be finding a pig, killing it, and butchering it personally, but I think I would find that difficult, given Babe is one of my favourite movies. It’s this same sentimentality that prohibits me from eating rabbit, on account of my pet bunny Nimbus
Other animals are a different proposition. For instance, I’ve never met a cow I didn’t hate. At uni a friend once dared me to run up to a cow and take a bite right out of one, and I really considered it.
So off I trotted to my local pig-specialist butcher, and a few days later became the proud possessor of an entire pig’s head, which my butcher kindly, and with practiced ease, cleaved in two. Carrying it home in the plastic butcher bag I had to summon every ounce of my willpower to resist the temptation to use it to play a prank on my horrible elderly neighbour with whom I have an ongoing feud (more on that later), and started to prep it.
This is the head, and for the pic, rather than face the wrathful glare of its countenance, I placed my knife strategically over its eye, which we all know is the window to its piggy soul.
I also have a more X-rated pic of the reverse, or inside, of the head – message if you want me to send it to you, sicko.
So after removing its smaller-than-expected brain, I borrowed my flatmate’s razor and shaved it. No word of a lie, you really do have to shave it. I was tempted for a second to lather some shaving cream onto it and pose it like macauley culkin in Home Alone.
Without its trotters to pose as hands it wouldn’t really work though, so I had to shelve that idea. Also, it’s ridiculous.
Later googling would reveal that a blowtorch is a far simpler method of removing the hair from its head. Information which would have been useful at the time, if not only because I’m sure it would come in handy somewhere later down the line, perhaps during a mob shakedown, where I could prove my gangland credentials by regaling my mobster accosters with the story of how I once took a blowtorch to a ‘pig”s head.
Shaved, cleaned up and ready for its big day, I put it in a pot with some carrot, onion and spring onion, brought it to the boil, then reduced to a simmer for 3 1/2 hrs. Also, I need a bigger pot.
Comically undersized pot notwithstanding, I managed to cook the meat quite well. The next step, then, was to pull apart the head, keeping the meat in one bowl, fat in another, and the ‘rest’ in a third and final bowl. I decided to take the advice of David Chang in his Momofuku cookbook for this step and donned a pair of rubber gloves. If truth be told though, it wasn’t that bad- even the stuff I imagined would be the worst, like pulling out its tongue and eyeballs, was quite easy to deal with. So here is what I wound up with- fat on the left, meat on the right.
Also, as an added bonus, a big pot of rich, porky stock, though it’ll sure take some clarifyin’. All for $7. Even the butcher seemed surprised by how cheap it was.
Once the meat had cooled down, the next step was to roll a combination of the fat and meat, along with a couple of pinches of salt and some fried garlic, in glad wrap into tight little bundles, then into the fridge overnight to ‘set’.
And there you have it- three nice little pig’s head torchons. Now what to do with them..