Contains: Offal, added sugar. Is: Gluten-free, nightshade free, dairy free, paleo.
All right, this is half a head. It came with my late summer’s pork share – well, it was indeed optional, but I wasn’t going to reject a head out of hand. (Umm?)
My lamb post follows today: Roasted Lamb Head.
I came across a YouTube video, and decided to create this Khmer / Cambodian recipe. I ended up adapting it further in order to spice it up some more as the boiling portion of seasonings really didn’t impart a LOT of flavor to the meat. Some… but not enough.
This head came brainless – if you do get the brain tissue, remove and cook separately for a lot less longer. (Or, discard.) But everything else was there.
Cooking the heads of livestock that you are otherwise going to be eating anyway is not a bad idea – and this meat doesn’t taste “off” or “out of the ordinary” from the rest of the porker. Probably excluding the eye – which is edible, but due to issues with my own eyes, I just don’t eat that part.* The head is also more fatty than most of the rest of the pig, but there are ways to minimize this. And yes, the loose fatty parts I also discarded.
The sugar is added to help the skin crisp up.
Cooked Autumn 2019.
Prep Time: 15=10 minutes.
Cook Time: 1 hour simmer, total 2 hours for roasting half a head.
First Rest Time: 2 hours.
Final Rest Time: 20 minutes.
Servings: 3-4, but see the discussion.
Leftovers: Yes. Refrigerate or freeze.
Cambodian/Khmer Pork Head
- 1/2 pig’s head, cleaned preferably by your butcher.
- 1/2 onion
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed.
- 1 sliced shallot
- 1-2 slices of galangal (I didn’t have fresh, so I used two teaspoons of powdered).
- some lemongrass (I used about a tablespoon of dried).
- 2-3 Thai lime leaves, crumbled (I am actually growing my own Thai lime, so was glad to use it!)
For the roasting part:
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- 2 Thai lime leaves, broken up.
- 1-2 clove minced garlic
- 2-3 teaspoons galangal powder
- 1.5 tablespoons finely chopped lemomgrass.
Thaw your head. Well, it’s head… Okay, okay, I’ll stop now, before I get too offal… If the skin of your pig’s head has hair, get a manual disposable razor and shave it off. Mine didn’t have such.
Place the head in a large, tall cookpot. (I use the one I have used for lobster, for hot water bath canning, for sous-viding, and for large multi-person pots of chili or stew)
Add all the seasonings listed prior to the first paragraph break in the ingredient list, to the water.
Bring to a boil, reduce to an active simmer, cover, and let it cook for about an hour.
Remove the head, carefully (it’s hot), and place on a rack over a baking sheet.
Using the tines of your fork, pierce the head in many places, allowing fat to drain out. Turn on its side to best facilitate this drainage.
Let sit on the counter for two hours, so the skin can dry. This will help the skin to crisp up in the next cooking stage.
Pre-heat oven to 400 F/ 205 C, to be ready when the two hour drying time is up. I patted the skin dry further with a paper towel.
Here is where I diverged importantly from the YouTube recipe, as I didn’t think there’d be enough seasoning adventuring within the meat without doing this – (in addition to my only having half a head available):
Add most of the roasting part of the ingredients over the skin-side top of the head, mixed together as a rub. Cover the ear with foil to keep from burning excessively. Roast for 1 hour. (If you do have a whole head, you can go for two hours.)
Pull out of oven, flip the head half over, then add the remainder of the roasting rub over the inner part of the head (which will now be the top portion). Return to oven for another 30 minutes.
Pull back out, and reposition the half-head so that the skin is on top, and return to the oven for a final half hour, using drippings to spritz over the top as you do so.
Pull the head out of the oven, allow to rest for 15-20 minutes, and then enjoy. The skin is crunchy and should be edible. There are somewhat large areas of just fat, which I discarded, but there was a lot of jaw and cheek meat, plus the tongue. I’ve reserved the bones and connective tissue for a future pork stock. I did get meat for four meals out of this half-a-head: but note that two of those were breakfast (smaller quantity). This is NOT something to serve at a dinner party – not necessarily because of any squee factor but because of the sheer impossibility to get even servings for all meat textures to all your diners. And this eating off the bone, different parts of meat…
This is the link to the video.
* Probably as a result of eye surgery when I was five years old, I cannot watch people put in or take out contact lenses, much less use them myself. When we watched those health and safety videos for work, I had to avert my own when that part came on – but I could watch all the rest. When I get those eye dilation drops to check for glaucoma, we’ve come to the realization that tilting my head back so that gravity can put the drops down there into the eyes – that this works. When I had to give a cat medication for pink eye, fortunately I convinced myself that her eyes were totally different than human, and could do it – But I’m just not going to eat eyes…
Something I don’t eat???? Yes. That’s one, and the only one from “Just Can’t Go There” when referring to mammalian food sources, rather than “Just Don’t Like Something About It”.
Okay, here we go with several half-head photos.
This is an excellent and varied bit of meat. I enjoy the idea of nose-to-tail eating. By the way, cheek meat tastes a lot like pork shoulder meat. Tongue tastes like pork in this animal, but has a different texture than regular muscle meat – but it is not at all off-putting. As noted, I did discard blatant wads of fat. (I probably should have rendered that down for my chickens, however…)
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