Adapted from West Coast Prime Meats Cooks © 2015

 

This di testa recipe is impressive and unique as the finished product looks like a reconstructed head of a pig, but it is a roulade that is marinated for 2 days and cooked sous vide for 16 hours. The cooked head has a soft yet rich and unctuous flavor that works for many applications. If you are not confident with your knife skills, find a local butcher who can process the pig's head for you. Then you are left with the sous vide cooking and a delicious piece of charcuterie when you are finished.

Ingredients

  • One whole pig’s head intact (approximately 12 to 20 pounds) 
  • Two tablespoons pink curing salt*
  • One tablespoon kosher salt
  • One tablespoon fresh ground black peppercorn
  • Two tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • Three tablespoons chopped garlic
  • One tablespoon lemon zest
  • Half-tablespoon fennel seeds
  • Half-tablespoon chile flakes

* This ingredient should not be ingested raw. Plase keep away from young children.

Tools

  • Blow torch
  • Sharp boning knife
  • Shallow stainless or other nonreactive steel pan large enough to hold the meat
  • Immersion cooking chamber
  • Vacuum bag sealer
  • Sous vide bag

Instructions

1

Blow torch the entire head to remove hair and wipe clean with a damp cloth.

2

Turn the head over and score the skin, making a clean incision from the neck to the end of the head.

3

Pull back the skin on the left side and make small shallow cuts separating the skin from the bone. The trick here is to keep the entire skin of the head intact, including the ears.

4

Keep pulling with firm pressure and making incisions as you round the cheekbone, then cut to the top of the head. Repeat the process on the right side.

5

Lift up the skull and continue to remove the skin from the bridge of the nose.

6

Free the base of the tongue from the skull and remove the tongue entirely. Also reserve the cheek meat.

7

Reserve the skull for later use. You can cover it with water, add some dried sage and thyme as well as some chopped celery, carrots and onions and simmer over low heat for an hour or so; or you can season it with salt and pepper and roast it in a 350-degree oven.; maybe you can make some tacos while you wait for the porchetta to marinate.

8

Clean up and remove small sinew and pieces of cartilage.

9

Sprinkle one tablespoon of curing salt on both sides of the head and tongue.

10

Place skin-side-down in a shallow pan and season with kosher salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, lemon zest, fennel seeds and chile flakes.

11

After 48 hours, place the tongue in the center of the head and the cheeks on either side of the tongue. Fold in both ears and roll the left side into the middle and then fold the right side over the rolled left side. It should look like a pig’s head that has been rolled back together. Tie 7-9 times with butcher twine and vacuum seal with a cryovac machine. Cook the pig’s head sous vide at 185 degrees Fahrenheit (85 degrees Celsius) for 16 hours.

12

After 16 hours, place the porchetta, in the plastic bag, in an ice water bath and chill until the internal temperature is 40 degrees. Keep adding ice as it melts. Remove from the ice bath and refrigerate, keeping the porchetta in the plastic bag.

13

Hold in the refrigerator for 48 hours to let the flavors develop. When ready to serve, remove from the bag and cut the strings from the outside. The meat will have a natural ring of pork fat and gelatin surrounding it. Use either a deli-style slicer or a sharp knife to slice the porchetta as thinly as possible to serve.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Amy and Craig Nickoloff and West Coast Prime Meats
Recipes reprinted with permission of the owners.