Cheek, ear, liver and spleen, if there’s a pig part Fergus Henderson has a recipe for it. My favorite piece of anatomy is the pig head and Chef Henderson knows quite a few ways to turn a skull into a fanatic meal, so tonight I’m making a Warm Pig’s Head Salad from his The Complete Nose to Tail: A Kind of British Cooking. Yesterday I smoked half a pig’s head for about seven hours using mesquite wood, so today it’s bath time–with white onion, green onions, garlic, red peppercorns, celery, carrots and bay leaves.
I bring to a boil, then let simmer for a few hours. After pulling the head out, I save what is now a glorious pork stock–something I will use later this week. For now, I have a warm head.
All the smoke and water have done the trick, and skin, meat and fat pull away easily from the skull.
Look at all that wonderful meat from half a head. The cheeks have much to offer, behind the eyes and the eyes, and the tongue is a real treat. Let’s look a bit closer at the tongue.
The tongue cuts into firm yet tender slices. Now it’s time to toss a salad. Gabriela tears up mustard greens, Napa cabbage, slices red onion and green onion, and then combines extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. I pick apart the meat, slice tongue and ear and we’re ready for the table.
I’m pairing this dish with a Crémant de Loire from Château de Brézé brought as a gift from my good friend Misha Penton, who also happens to be a fantastic composer and gifted singer. And, she has a very good taste in wine. The Loire valley is known for Chenin Blanc grapes, and this sparkling wine does not disappoint–notes of red berries, melon, oak and vanilla, very fresh and clean, and of course, delightful bubbles.
We’re also serving slices of Tuscan Bread from Kraftsmenbaking in the Heights, and a bowl of extra virgin olive oil and garlic.
This dish is recommended for four and the three of us are quite full when the salad bowl is empty and all the olive dredged up by bread, and of course, the bottle of wine bare. Delicious.
And while we’re eating, let’s listen to Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane in F-sharp minor, opus number 50. Bon Appétit!