Warning: this post is not for the squeamish.
So the butcher asked me toward the end if I wanted the pigs’ heads. Initially I said no, but then impulsively I said I would take one. I said I wanted to go medieval. I figured if it was good enough for King Henry VIII, it was good enough for me. So here is Porky’s head laying in the driveway just after the butcher left. I was starting to question my decision.
I moved it to the backyard and rinsed it off.
I read very quickly how to prepare a pig’s head for roasting. What I found said to singe the hairs off. So Tom helped singe him. Later I read you can shave them and that probably would have been better. The smell of burnt hair persisted into the roasting process.
So I had initially planned on using this Oven-Roasted Pig Head recipe. I was planning on baking it yesterday, but the recipe called for marinating it overnight. So I weighed it at 14.2 pounds and rubbed triple the recipe amounts of vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic powder into the skin. I let it stay in the refrigerator another day.
But this morning I weighed myself like I do every morning, and my measurement was in kilograms. I then realized that the head was 14.2 kg not pounds. I thought it felt heavier but assumed I was just weak. There is no way I would have time to cook a 31# head with the recipe I had chosen. So quickly I looked for other recipes that might get it done in time. There is not a lot (anything) on the internet about roasting a 30# pig head (they are all half heads for some reason), but this sucking pig recipe was helpful so I used it’s baking guidelines. I started baking it at 275 degrees at 20 minutes per pounds or 10.5 hours. I covered the snout and ears with foil.
I also enjoyed this post about cooking a pig’s head for a GOT viewing party. Sounds like fun! I also found this cool post about cooking pigs’ heads across different cultures. I also found references to cookbooks: Offal Good: Cooking from the Heart, with Guts: A Cookbook and The Complete Nose to Tail: A Kind of British Cooking. I may “need” these books.
So here’s is the pig cooking. I had to check it every half hour and baste out the fluids coming off of it. It is a fairly shallow pan (the only one that would hold the head), and I didn’t want a repeat of the How Not to Cook a 40# Turkey debacle.
It was finally out of the oven. I was surprised that the mouth had opened. Maybe that has something to do with why they put an apple in the mouth. I don’t know. The skin was quite tough. I had basted it every hour or so while it was baking although none of my sources said to do that. It seemed like the right thing.
So Tom wants absolutely nothing to do with this head so he wouldn’t carve it for me. I took my incredibly sharp knife I got for Christmas and managed to take the skin and ears off.
Then I moved the fat aside and pulled off the meat. I was surprised how little there was. I was pretty intimidated at this point, not sure I could eat it. The oven is warming for Tom to cook a chicken cordon bleu as again he was having nothing to do with my medieval experiment.
Here is the skin and ears I got off of it. I think Steve will get this as an occasional treat.
And here is my dinner. I accompanied it with leftover Jamaica Beans & Rice. I still was kind of scared of it, particularly the light really stringy meat. But it was all very tasty, much like pulled pork.
I doubt I will do this again as it was a lot of work for a small amount of meat. But it is tasty, and we haven’t had pork for a while. And I really didn’t want to see Porky’s head go into a garbage can. Plus I feel little medieval.