Headcheese and Scrapple
Headcheese is a homemade luncheon meat. It's quick and easy compared to scrapple. It's an all-meat product. You can add in the pig's tongue, skin, heart, and other scraps, if you want to. Headcheese makes a fine cold snack when cut in slices and served with hot mustard or horseradish. Or it can be dipped in egg and crumbs and fried like scrapple for your meat dish. Or you can make a kind of sausage out of it, if you know where to get casings (or how). Like all pork products it's on the bland side, so either while cooking or when serving you'll want to spice it up some. SCRAPPLE: This, on the other hand, is a meat and meat soup mixture made firm by thickening it with a cereal and spicing it to taste. Almost everybody likes headcheese. Some people like scrapple and some don't.
If you'd like to make a trial run of something like scrapple, to see if you're going to like it, use some leftover ham to make it. Prepare IV2 c. ground cooked ham. Then mix together 1 c. cornmeal, V21. salt, pepper to taste, and 1 c. cold water. Boil 13A c. water and then slowly add the cold cornmeal mixture. Cook on low heat until the scrapple has thickened and is boiling, stirring all the time. Add the ground ham, mix it up well, and pour out into pans to set up. That takes at least several hours in a chilly place. Then you can turn it out of the pan, slice off some, and fry as described earlier.
Now that you've decided whether you're going to make headcheese or scrapple, there's the problem of what you're going to make it out of. If you have, or are going to have, a hog's head, that's fine. Some farmers don't want to bother with their hogs' heads and will sell them to you. Heads vary considerably in size depending on how old the animal was. An old brood sow can have a head almost twice as big as that of a pig of the more usual butchering age. If you don't have a hog's head, you can actually make headcheese or scrapple out of any pork-sausage-type scraps.
1. The head should be already scalded, scraped, and separated. But if the head fate has given you to work with is a still-hairy one, then you'll have to skin it—which is an awful, tedious, frustrating job, and you have my sympathy. Or you can try singeing the hairs off with a blow torch.
2. Take the head out to your chopping block and split it in half with the ax. If it looks like mincemeat before you finally manage to get the halves separated don't despair—that won't hurt the final product. Just collect the pieces off the chopping block and carry them back to the kitchen.
3. Remove and discard the eyes, nasal passages, teeth, jaw, and eardrums. You can use the ears, lips, and snout if they are well-cleaned. Scrape the ears to get them clean. Usually the jowl isn't used because it's so fatty. The "jowl" is the neck-cheek area. Remove all the fat you can and save it to render for cooking lard or soap. Make deep cuts in the thick meat pieces.
4. Put the meat into your kettle. A cast-iron kettle is best because it heats most evenly (so is an old-fashioned wood or coal burning range for the same reason). For 1 hog's head you'll need the equivalent of a canner or big 8-qt. pressure cooker to make this recipe. Cover the meat with water and simmer until it is ready to fall off the bones.
5. Remove the meat from the broth. Pick it over and separate the meat from the most of the fat, from all of the bones, and from the broth. Grind the meat.
Up to this point the recipe is the same whether you are making headcheese or scrapple. Now it differs. A Scrapple Recipe. Skim every bit of fat from the broth. Add to the broth one 2-lb. 10-oz. box of old-fashioned oatmeal. Don't use the instant kind since it won't make good scrapple for some reason. Or add enough cornmeal to make a soft mush. Or add half cornmeal and half buckwheat flour to make a soft mush. I prefer the oatmeal but you can vary the specific grain combination to suit yourself. If you are working with a large quantity of meat, rather than just 1 head, figure 1 part dry cereal and 3 parts soup to 7 parts ground cooked meat. If you use cornmeal, cool some of the broth and moisten the cornmeal with it before adding to prevent lumps.
Now season the scrapple. For the basic 1 pig's head and 1 box oatmeal recipe, add V2 T. ground pepper and 2 T. salt, or vary the seasonings to suit yourself. Marjoram, sage, nutmeg, mace, and onions are all good in it. (If you use onions, grind them first and add at the beginning of the time the cereal will cook.) After your scrapple is thickened and seasoned, it has to be cooked about half an hour very slowly. Don't let it burn on the bottom. When it is done, pour it into chilled, wet leaf-type (or other shallow) pans. That's all there is to it.
Scrapple makes a good quick breakfast or lunch. You can cut it into sections sized appropriately for 1 meal for your family, package it in a plastic bag, and freeze. To serve the scrapple, thaw it, and cut into V2-inch slices. Some people like it dipped in egg or in egg and crumbs before frying. Fry it like cornmeal mush in a lightly buttered pan, about 10 minutes per side, over medium to low heat until browned on each side and crisp. Serve with maple syrup. Scrapple Without a Pig's Head. From Ellen Currans of Douglas, OR: "Start with 1 lb. pork sausage, browned in a skillet with 1 large onion, chopped. Add 3 c. boiling water and 3 c. oatmeal. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until oatmeal has absorbed the water and tastes cooked. Our family eats as is, or it can be packed in a loaf pan, refrigerated and then sliced and fried in butter for breakfast. Makes a great first breakfast to take on camping trips." HEADCHEESE: Mix the ground meat mass with seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, red pepper, ground cloves, coriander, and sweet marjoram all are possibilities. Take a little sample, spice it, and then taste it to see if you like your combination. Keep testing until you get it right, and then spice the whole mass accordingly. Red pepper is good in it if you have a cast-iron stomach. I grind my own, but if you do too be sure you get it fine because if somebody bites into a speck-sized bit of it, it'll take the top of his head off.
Pack the seasoned headcheese tightly in a bowl or loaf pan and press into as compact a mass as you can in the bottom of the bowl. For extra firmness, cover it with a weighted plate. Refrigerate. When it is very firm it is ready to slice and eat.
Still another way to use the pig's head is a combination of headcheese and panhas. Go ahead and make your headcheese. After making headcheese you have a soup broth left over anyway to use as you please or throw out. Add corn-meal and seasonings to that meat broth just as for scrapple and you get the meatless scrapple called panhas. Headcheese Sausage. This is a variation you can try sometime. After the headcheese is seasoned to taste, stuff it into casings instead of pressing it into a bowl. Then recook the sausages in the pork soup until they float, 10-30 minutes. After they float, chill them in cold water. Store in a cool place. You can add a smoke flavor by giving them 4 hours in the smokehouse.
Sylta Headcheese. From the Johnsons of Wheaton, IL: "This serves 20 to 25. Use Vi hog's head (5 lb.), 2 lb. lean pork and 1xk lb. veal shoulder. Clean and singe off hair and bristles. Clean teeth with a stiff brush and cut off ears. Soak in cold water for 6 to 12 hours, changing water. Place meat and hocks in boiling water to which has been added 4 t. salt, 30 peppercorns, and 20 whole allspice. Simmer 2 to 3 hours, or until tender. Remove meat from broth, save broth, and cut meat in slices. Spread cloth or towel, wrung out in hot water, in a deep bowl. Line with cooked rind from pork hocks, rind side down. To sliced meat, add 3 to 4 T. crushed whole allspice (measure after crushing with rolling pin). Add 3 to 4 T. salt. Arrange in cloth. Cover with rind if any is available. Pull cloth together tightly and tie with string. Put back in broth. Cook slowly 5 to 10 minutes. Lift out so it doesn't stick to the bottom. Remove to a platter, cover with a board and put weight on for 24 hours. Set in a cool place. Remove cloth after that time and wrap in a fresh cloth that has been soaked in salted water. Put in a plastic bag and refrigerate. Serve slice thin with pickled beets."
Continue reading here: Making Lard
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