Thursday 2 December 2004 11.10pm
Did you take this up. I dug out the River Cottage
cookbook and confirmed that he only suggests brining for up to 24 hours. He also reckons that "the natural gelatine in the the head should be enough to set the brawn in its own jelly, but an extra pig's trotter will make sure"
1 pigs head, quartered (brined for up to 24 hours)
1 or 2 pigs trotters
2 onions, peeled and quartered
a large bundle of fresh herbs - parsley, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram
a muslin bag 0f spices (1-2 teaspoons each of cloves, coriander and mixed peppercorns)
a handful of chopped parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the quartered head, trotters, onions, bundle of herbs and bag of spices in a large stockpot. Cover with water and bring slowly to a gentle simmer. For the first half an hour of cooking, skim off any bubbly scum that rises to the surface. Cook uncovered at a very gentle simmer for about 4 hours altogether, until all the meat is completely tender and coming away from the bones. Top up the pan occasionally as the water level drops (remove the ears after about 2 1/2 hours if you want to use them for Crispy Pig's Ears).
When cooked, lift out the meat and leave until cool enough to handle. Pick all the meat (plus the brains, if you haven't already removed them), skin and fat off the head bones; it should fall off quite easily. Remove any bristly hairs with tweezers. Carefully remove the tongue in one piece, peel off the skin, and set aside. Roughly chop all the bits of meat, including the fat and skin, and toss them together with the chopped parsley and the lemon juice. (Everything except the bone and bristles can go into a brawn, but to make it less fatty, just discard some of fatty pieces at this stage.) Season to taste salt and pepper.
Place a layer of this seasoned mixture dish at least 2 litres in capacity, or in 2 or ones. Place the boiled tongue on top and off with the remaining meat mixture.
Remove the herbs, onions and spices cooking liquor and strain it if cloudy. Boil unt by about two-thirds and then spoon a tablespoons of this gelatine-rich liquid over to help it set as it cools. Put a plate or board on top, weight it down and put in the refrigerator to set