Sopressata – Italian style head cheese

Last week I went for a cooking class in which we butchered a pig. I’ll admit, it was a bit graphic, but I am a firm believer in knowing how that pork chop or that slice of bacon got on your plate. It is a bit about knowledge and a bit about respect and realizing that if you are only eating chops and loin there is a good 3/4 of the pig that goes to waste. And that should never happen.

In the spirit of using all parts of the pig, I entered the draw for the pig head (well half a pig head. And I won it! I was also given some pork belly, a pork cheek and pork chops. So today I’ll present you the recipe of sopressata (Italian style head cheese) and next Sunday I will give you cooked pork belly. Both are to be cooked, refrigerated and then thinly sliced using a meat slicer if at all possible. and would be great on a charcuterie plate.

Sopressata

Ingredients

  • 1/2 a pork head
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 handful of black pepper
  • 2 handful of salt
  • 2 cloves
  • nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine

Directions

  1. Place the head in a large pot and cover it with water. Add the bay leaves, half the pepper, half the salt 2 cloves and a pinch of nutmeg. Turn on the heat and let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. During the last hour of cooking, place the smashed garlic to macerate in the wine with a pinch of nutmeg.
  3. When the meat is very tender, fish the head out of the water and take it apart. Get all the meaty bits in bowl, and add as much of the fat as you like. I kept mine very lean, but a bit more fat would have not been bad.
  4. Mix the meat with the rest of the salt, the pepper and the wine in which you macerated the garlic (not the garlic). Press the meat into a cheese cloth and hang over a bowl so that it looses liquids.
  5. After 24 hours wrap in plastic and place in the fridge.
  6. When you want to eat it, slice it thinly.

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