Nearly 4 months after he was delivered to us Hoosier’s hoof-prints are still making big imprints on our menus. We are using the leaf fat for the biscuits being serving with fried chicken on our lunch menu. His jowls, that we cured to make guanciale are being served with a locally produced Buratta cheese.
On our Charcuterie Chalkboard we are still featuring spiced coppa, his back fat is in our kielbasa and chicken sausage, and the fat from the hams we smoked are being used to make ham fat – potato croquettes. The remaining freezer fodder includes some smoked skin and bones, a fair amount of back fat and a few pounds of meat that will end up as sausage, rillettes or even braised.
Beyond all that, I just made a non-traditional head cheese, inspired by the head cheese I had at Cochon a great restaurant in New Orleans. A few winters back Colleen and I happened by, walking for miles, as we do every time we visit an unfamiliar city. I had heard of Cochon and since it was about time for a refreshment break, mid-afternoon, we sat outside in the hot February sun, we ordered up some drinks and one of their house-made charcuterie platters. All of the charcuterie was good, but the head cheese was memorable. It changed the way I have approached making it ever since.
Typically it’s the bits of the head; the tongue, ears, cheeks, skin and fat separated by overly gelatinous substance, resulting in a barely palatable concoction. It’s like eating a salty version of that Jello-canned fruit crap my mother would make for us back in the seventies.
At Cochon it appeared as though they pureed together some of the head fat with some reduced braising liquid from cooking the head and then folded in the other bits before pouring in all into a terrine to be chilled.
I made it like that a few times with great results, it really is so much better than the traditional version.
I decided to take it one step further and smoke the head before braising it, wow, head cheese went from barely palatable to really good to I want some now! The smoked version is by far the best; sweet, smoky, salty and super rich. We currently have it on our charcuterie chalkboard, as is, sliced on a board. On EVOO’s dinner menu we have made a croquette out of it, breading and deep frying a thick slice, serving it with last summer’s raspberry jam, pickled green tomatoes, scallion – green peppercorn sour cream and a butter basted egg.
We’ll see if Hoosier offers up any other delicacies worthy of another post. He has had an amazing run on our menu, we greatly appreciate all that he has given us.