Thursday, August 19, 2010

Getting a Head

When someone drops an opportunity in my lap, I grab it. Especially if it involves pork products.

So when my friend (and editor) Peter Szymczak of NW Palate magazine said he was testing a recipe for a pork terrine that was going to run in the next issue, and that it would involve cooking and stripping a pig's head, I not-so-subtly volunteered to help. He graciously accepted, saying the split-down-the-middle head would be brined for a day, then go into the oven to braise for 12 hours in a broth of wine, vegetables and water.

On the pretext of checking the galleys of the article on Big Table Farm that I wrote for the same issue, and to check out the redesign of the magazine (a big, and welcome, change), I dropped in about halfway through the braise. The head itself, which I named Max (after Max Headroom), was still intact (top photo and left) but on its way to melting into a tender, falling-off-the- bone mass of porky goodness.

And sure enough, when I returned that evening, it had all decomposed into a somewhat recognizable but now barely held together form (right). Which made it relatively easy to pull out the bones, cartilage and anything resembling glands and leaving the meat, skin and fat to cool in a pan till we could shred it by hand.

Traditionally, scrapple is pork combined with cornmeal, then fried before serving, and this recipe from Chef Robert Belcham, owner of Refuel and Campagnolo restaurants in Vancouver, B.C., called for making a small batch of polenta and mixing it into the pork with herbs. We then packed it into terrines, and set it in the fridge under weights to compress. Can't wait to slice into it!

Look for the recipe along with an interview with Chef Belcham in the Sept./Oct. issue of NW Palate magazine, as well as my article on Clare Carver and Brian Marcy of Big Table Farm. And get a load of the redesign of the magazine to boot! Subscribe online: 1 year/6 issues for $15; 2 years/12 issues for $27. Cheap!

To see the reincarnation of Max in terrine form, see Getting a Head: The Eating.


Suzanne said...

Wowee KB, looks both super fun and delicious.

Clare Carver said...

I loved learning the providence of REAL scrapple : ) - thanks for the shout out.. xx c

Kathleen Bauer said...

It was really fun, and not at smelly, though why I thought it might be I have no idea. The kitchen was filled with the lovely, brothy smell of vegetables and roasting meat, an aroma I adore. It's definitely something I'd be interested in doing again!

And it was fun to learn about scrapple…another thing I knew nothing about!