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The pig, according to “Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History,” is the second animal man domesticated next to dogs. The pig is a celebrated part of the Southern kitchen with so many ways to cook the pig, the actual number of recipes remains a question yet unanswered. A recipe exists for each and every part of the pig including the head, since nothing on a pig should go to waste. The head is boiled and used for hog’s headcheese, roasted in the oven and served as you would a pot roast.
Remove the brains and the eyes from the pig’s head. Split the back of the head in half with a sharp knife to remove the brains. Pull the eyes from the sockets.
Place the head into a large pot and cover it with water. Bring the head to a boil over high heat. Let the head boil for about 30 minutes.
Drain the water from the head. Rinse the pig head off, removing any scum that accumulated during the boiling process.
Return the head to the pot and cover it with fresh water. Add bay leafs and crushed red pepper.
Bring the head to a boil once again over high heat. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and allow the head to simmer for about three hours. Remove the head from the pot and allow it to cool.
Remove the brain and the eyes from the pig head.
Place the head in a large pot and cover it with water. Add 2 tbsp. of salt to the water and bring it to a boil. Continue to allow it to boil for 30 minutes. Remove the head from the salt water and wipe it dry. Leave the water in the pot.
Place the pig head into a large roasting pan. Beat an egg in a small mixing bowl and use a pastry brush to brush the egg over the entire pig head.
Mix together breadcrumbs, pepper, sage and onion. Press the bread crumb mixture over the entire pig head. The egg brushed onto the head previously holds the crumbs to the exterior of the head.
Baste the breadcrumbs with melted butter, and then baste the crumbs with some of the salt water from the pot. Surround the head with carrots, onions and potatoes.
Place the head in an oven preheated to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Roast for three hours, basting occasionally with butter and salt water.
- “How We Cook in Tennessee”; The Silver Thimble Society; 1906
- “Michael Symon’s Live to Cook: Recipes and Techniques to Rock Your Kitchen”; Michael Symon; 2009
- “Brains and Brawn…Trotters and Tripe: Forgotten & Forbidden Foods From Old Cook Books”; Nigel Woodhead; 2007
- “Beyond Nose to Tail: More Omnivorous Recipes for the Adventurous Cook”; Fergus Henderson, Justin Piers Gellatly; 2007
- “Southern Food: At Home, On the Road, In History”; John Egerton, Ann Bleidt Egerton; 1993
- James Agnew/iStock/Getty Images