Monday, 18 January 2010

Face Off: Part 2

On Saturday afternoon I had myself a hogshead lunch. Not at the pub around the corner which shares the same name but a meal consisting of the cuts I butchered earlier. I decided to slow roast one of the jowls rubbed with crushed fennel seeds, salt and pepper. I laid the jowl on a roasting rack over a tray of water and covered the lot with tin foil and roasted/steamed the jowl at gas mark 3 for around four and a half hours.
I carefully removed the sinew from the two plump cheeks and seasoned before searing in a pan with some finely chopped shallots and garlic, once coloured I poured over the stock I had made from the skull which had been simmering in a pan, a few sprigs of thyme and braised for three hours on the lowest possible flame. After an hour I dropped in some skinned tomatoes that were roughly chopped and they slowly melted into the broth. The torchon style sausage I made from the rolled pig's forehead had been in the fridge two days and I guessed the flavour of the lemon zest should have been absorbed by now. I sliced it ever so thinly on a chopping board and poured myself a glass of Malbec to begin the tasting.
I won't lie to you, it was quite unpleasant largely due to the lemon zest, I went a bit overboard with the quantity and it had a very sharp lemon overtone, the pig forehead sausage thing tasted nice when you hit the meat but the fat took up so much of it and was so dense and chewy that after a few slices I decided I'd package it up and just continue with extra wine instead.
I placed the pigs cheeks in a large terracotta dish and poured over the thick, reduced broth. This was amazing, the cheeks kept their shape but collapsed under the mildest of interrogations with a fork. The thick, saucy broth was incredible. So rich and full of deep and savoury pork flavours. The cheeks disappeared all too quickly, well there were only two, and I mopped the dish clean with some bread. Over in minutes but was in my mind all weekend. It was worth all the effort and time just for these two.

The fat from inside the jowl was like soft butter and was melting in front of my eyes over the strands of juicy pork. I should probably have spent more time shaving the beast though as the crackling at one end was spoilt a little by the area of stubble which was as coarse as a wire brush. On the whole a slightly deeper flavour to pork belly but probably less meat. I devoured the whole jowl to myself where as I can usually share a good sized portion of belly pork. There did seem to be a higher fat content and not the chewy type, we're talking the soft oozy type that you could spread on toast. All in all, with a good helping of Coleman's mustard it was a sterling pig feast. The other jowl is curing for a week on the top shelf of my fridge in salt, sugar, pepper and thyme before I hang it for three weeks in m attempt to have me some Guanciale which is similar to pancetta. How this will turn out only time will tell as I battle against mould and potential food poisoning.

You may be wondering what became of the snout and the pigs ears. I had planned to have pea and pig's ear soup with the grilled snout on the side the next day. On Sunday morning when I unwrapped them from the tin foil the smell and appearance of them both made it clear they had been left too long.(since Thursday)
The snout had gone all slimy and smelt terrible whilst the ears had turned very dark and smelt equally as bad. I hadn't completely done what I set out to do but I thought I had a bloody good run at it. Only wasting the snout and ears was no major loss and I can always go and buy just the ears one day this week. But there's just one thing I can't stop thinking about. I just want a bag full of pig cheeks now.

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