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Pork head contains a large amount of meaty muscle tissue, skin and fat, and other offal, which is simply anything that isn't meat but that is still edible. Traditionally, the hog's head was a "poor man's" meat since other cuts like the rump, ribs, and shoulder were more desirable. Even so, the meat of the head is tasty and can be used in many different dishes, much like any other cut of meat, but it is also used to make some specialty dishes like, hogs-head cheese.
Headcheese is made with almost the entire pork head. All parts are stewed until extremely tender, allowing the natural gelatin and fats to bind the meats into a jelly-like substance. Although it does not actually contain a cheese, the result of stewing the skin, meat, and other substances in the pork head is a loaf of meaty spread. At room temperature, it is soft and pliable, much like cheese. It has a rich, intense flavor and is often served as an appetizer with crackers or crusty bread.
The entire pork head is commonly used in the manufacturing of sausage. Several meaty, flavorful areas of the head are quite good for this purpose. These can be flavored with a variety of spice combinations — spicy, sweet, or mild — and formed into links or patties.
Scrapple, or liver mush, also uses most of the pork head. The meats, fats, and skin of the head are ground together to a fine texture. This is mixed with cornmeal and molded into a loaf that is fried or baked. The loaf is usually served with breakfast foods like eggs, toast, and hash browns, and in the southern United States, grits.
Since the pork head contains a rich combination of fats and meats, it is often stewed to create a broth. This broth can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews, to noodles, casseroles, and other meat dishes. Hogs head is the traditional base — both the meat and the broth — for Brunswick stew.
Like any other meaty area of an animal, the head can be grilled. To do this, the head is typically sliced in two and the snout and ears removed. Seasonings or marinades are left to the personal preferences of the chef, and the result is a very rich main course. The meat contained in the head can be cut out and used like the meat from any other area of the body. Broiled, roasted, boiled, fried, or used as seasoning, it is a versatile part of the hog. The jowls, in particular, are especially tasty and, typically, quite tender.
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