Saturday, 10 April 2010

Pressing issues

That age old dilemma... You've finished making your chorizos for the year. Your lacon has been quietly maturing with the legs of jamon in the humadaria. Your panceta is just about ready to be brought up into the kitchen. There's a manita in the bottom of the fridge that you plan to use in a caldo, but those two pigs heads that are hanging in the basement still need to be put to good use... Sound familiar? Not, to me either. Until I came to Galicia, that is, where if you don't have at least half a pig hanging in your store room, plus a couple of live ones in the garden, your house is quite frankly incomplete.

Whilst the 'nose to tail' philosophy is still something of a novelty in Britain, in Galicia, you'd be looked at like a fool if you didn't eat the head, tail, feet, tongue, brains or in fact any other scrap of flesh that it was possible to obtain from an animal carcass without resorting to mechanically-aided extraction.

So, what to do with those spare pigs heads? Make cachucha, of course; Pressed pig's head.


This is the Galego version of what those who adhere to the nose to tail philosophy will know as 'brawn'. The key difference as far as I can see is that the brawn recipes that I've seen use fresh pig's heads, whilst in cachucha, the meat is inevitably salted and lightly smoked. Most don't even use any additional herbs or aromatics, but I've included some here, because a few bay leaves aren't going to offend anyone, and let's face it, if your stock pot contains literally nothing but piggy-smelling face meat, you're going to feel a bit like you're making dog food.

Makes enough for one large terrine

one pig's head, salted and lighlty smoked. On the bone, but split into quarters

bay leaves, thyme, rosemarry, pepper corns (optional)


Put the pig's head in a sufficiently large pot, and cover completely with cold water, and leave to soak. Change the water every twelve hours or so for at least a day and a half.

After having changed the water at least three times, drain, rinse, and cover in fresh water, adding the herbs and any other flavours you choose. Bring to the boil, then simmer for three to four hours. Leave to cool. You now have some very tender pig face meat, and some very strong pig stock.

Pick the meat off the face and skull, trimming off any thick layers of fat. A bit of gristle is fine. Cut the ears, nose, and any other large pieces of flesh into strips. Layer and pack tightly into a terrine dish, cover with grease proof paper and tin foil, and use a brick, books, or any other heavy object to press down on the top of the terrine. Leave in a cool place over night, then refrigerate.

Serve in thin slices with toast and chutney.


  1. So......pig face on toast then? ;-)

  2. That's it, Ozzie... Think it will make an appearance on the menu at All Nations House? I'm guessing not ;-)

  3. Hahhha, maybe mate – I still have a trotter in the freezer.... used one in a chorizo stew. Had a pizza session this weekend with Laura's brothers, although not in a wood burner.... still good though!