Good heavens. This is among the most unspeakably grim undertakings that I have undertaken for some time! Vegetarians and those of a squeamish disposition should probably read no further.
Ok, well don’t say you weren’t warned.
It was all quite amusing at first. I wasn’t at all sure how to come by a pig’s head. One doesn’t really see them in the butcher’s display cabinet as a general rule. First I tentatively looked on a couple of websites. Then I got braver and made a phone call or two. Then went into town, and made enquiries at every butchers I could find. One took my number and promised to call when he got one in.
This week the call came. My head was in. Into town I went. To Jesse Smith Butchers. I was relieved of £8, and came away with a head in a bag, (2 bags, thankfully, so it could not be identified by passers by). ‘Mmmm, nice porker’s ‘ed’ observed the butcher cheerfully, as he wrapped it up. ‘Making brawn, are you?’ he asked. ‘Mmmm’ I acquiesced, and with considerable self-discipline, I refrained from elaborating on the 100 things, (and thus sharing far too freely about the Brazilian, the Bananaman, or any of the other bizarre endeavours that seem to pepper my conversation these days).
I got home, stuck it in the garage, and ignored it for the rest of that day.
Today though, it was time to tackle it. I brought it into the house. Took it out the bag. Sat it on a chopping board on the kitchen table. We studied one another, for quite a while. It was a little unnerving. He still had eyes. And whiskers. I kept looking, and then looking away. He stared back. It took a good half hour for us to get the measure of each other.
The whole escapade is enough to make a former vegetarian somewhat bilious. The recipe on www.downsizer.net is very matter of fact about it all. I am to make bath chaps from the cheeks, crispy pigs ears, and brawn from the rest. Oof.
I made him face the wall, and started on the brine mixture. Then I readied all the vegetables for the stock. So far, so good.
But then there was no avoiding the unpleasantness. Having no blow torch I used a lighter to try and rid him of whiskers; not very effectively. Then I held him by the snout and stuck a knife in. A too blunt knife as it turned out, but we made the best of it. I lopped off his ears and cheeks. (Had to turn his face away while I did it). Once he wasn’t looking, it was easier. Then I stuck the radio on and it was just like trimming fat off of any other meat. Though there was rather more fat than meat. And a lot of bone. Bleeeuuuugggghhhhhh.
Anyway. Cheeks and ears put to one side. Covered in brine. Leave in the fridge for 3 days it says!
Then to the stock. Even without ears or cheeks, the head was rather too large for my pan. Help! I can’t have a snout sticking out the pot when the children come home!
Luckily I found a bigger pot. Still some snout protrusion! But better. I put it on to boil. And oh God, the stench! The entire house was filled with the most chunderous aroma imaginable, as skin, flesh, eyeballs, snout and lord knows what else began to boil and disintegrate.
My husband came home and almost gagged. ‘What the f*** are you doing?’ was not an unreasonable question. I explained the various dishes that were underway. His bafflement was absolute. ‘But I don’t want to eat a pig’s face.’ I switched off the stockpot and we all had pancakes.
Later on, I studied the carnage in the pot, and with heavy heart I’m afraid I have had to give up on it. Aside from the utterly rancid stench which now pervades the entire house and probably neighbourhood, I found a gelatinous mulch of fat, meat, vegetables and God only knows what else… with a skull sticking out the middle of it. It is unthinkable that anyone will eat any part of it. So I have scraped the whole lot into 3 carrier bags into the dustbin. I know it is kind of wrong to eat the choice bits of an animal and waste the rest, when it has made the ultimate sacrifice, but what can I say? I tried.