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How to Prepare Pig's Head
A Vegetarian’s Nightmare
No one feasts quite like a farmer – especially at Christmas time. The Tudors were no exception. Feasting was at the heart of Christmas celebrations during the Tudor era (1485 – 1603). From plum pottage to mince pies and puddings, there was plenty to fill your belly. But the main attraction was boar’s head.
For those who’d like to join us in reviving this classic dish, we put together a recipe by watching the pros in action on Tudor Farm Christmas. (All the quoted stuff in the recipe comes from this Christmas special.) What the recipe lacks in precision, we hope it makes up for in charm.See Recipe
How to Prepare Pig's Head
- Twist off the pig’s head. Remove the skull to create a cavity. Try to keep all the flesh and skin intact because you’ll be reshaping the whole bit into a proper pig head.
- Pickle the head the way you’d pickle any other heads – using a blend of ale vinegars and herbs (mostly bay leaf, a little mustard seed.)
- Leave the head to pickle “until Christmas gets a little bit closer.”
- Stock up on firewood. “The majority of your wood pile would be made up of Beech and Ash, because they are your sort of midrange burners. However, if you want a slightly slower, longer heat you need a denser wood like Oak. Whereas if you want a flash fry, go for Hazel.”
- Once Christmas is “a little bit closer”, stuff that head with chopped pork. While stuffing, concentrate on shaping the skin-bag full of meat into something at least vaguely pig-head-like. Sew up the head as you go – preferably, while whistling.
- Like an especially attentive mortician, stuff meat bits here and there until the head is wonderfully head-like. (Remember there’s no such thing as the perfect pig. He was born with that snout and those whiskers. Avoid getting too carried away or people will realize your pig’s had work done – and amateur work, at that).
- Time for the final ingredient: raisins. Stuff (lots of stuffing in this recipe isn’t there?) the centre of the head with a pre-made raisiny paste. We’re not sure when you’re supposed to pre-make this – or what’s in it aside from the obvious (raisins). Here we’d helpfully suggest using your instincts.
- Once the head is fully stuffed and sewn up, wrap it in cloth. This will (hypothetically) keep it together while it cooks.
- Boil the head for “about two to three hours”. Take a second to position yourself in front of the oven with a view of the cloth-wrapped head. Appreciate the moment.
- When your pig-head-cooking instincts tell you the head is good and edible, take it out. Think of pre-Tudor era mummies while you twirl the cotton off the head, which should be very soft.
- Now put your mortician hat back on and poke and pull on the head until you’re satisfied with the shape.
- Decorate the head with all your favourite pig-head accessories. Sky’s the limit, really.
- Consider singing triumphantly as you present the decorative head to your guests.
- Eat the head.