Tête de Porc at Café Presse

Dre's tête de porc served with a watercress and pickled shallot salad.
Dre’s tête de porc served with a watercress and pickled shallot salad.

Cafe Presse chef de cuisine Dre Neely is once again doing one of his favorite projects:  making tête de porc.  Thats pigs head to you and me.  Tête de porc, however, is not the same as other, more well known uses of head, like terrine de tête or  fromage de tête. 

Both of these two latter involve slowly cooking a pigs head (generally a split head with the brain removed, as brain is too fragile and perishable for use in charcuterie) until tender, then removing the bones, dicing the rest, including the tongue and skin, and molding it in a terrine with aspic made from the rich poaching liquid (usually a calves food is simmered with the head to give extra gelatine to the broth).

Tete de porc is different in that the bones are removed from the raw head before cooking and that the boneless head is never chopped up but rolled whole.  Dre rubs the boneless head, including the ears and tongue, with salt, spices and rosemary, then lets it marinate overnight.  Next day, he rolls it and ties it up neatly.  The rolled head is then simmered until  in a rich broth with carrots, onions, garlic, bay leaf and spices.  When it is tener, it is chilled completely, usually overnight.

The result is less like a terrine and more like a cross between very flavorful ham and pancetta.  Sliced thin, it is perfect as part of a platter of cured meats.  Or you can enjoy it as we are currently serving for a special du jour at Cafe Presse, while it lasts:  sliced, sprinkled with sel gris and served with a salad of watercress, pickled shallots and a red wine vinaigrette.

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