A little while back I picked up a prize at the Rochester Farmers Market. It was a whole pig's head... for five dollars! I can't think of very many better things to spend five dollars on than an animal head.
I took my direction and inspiration from THIS VIDEO.
First things first, removing the hair. You could shave it or burn it off. Either way, you don't want to be eating hair. I opted to use fire since I didn't have a spare razor to use on my dinner. It's funny, my food lately seems to require hygiene lessons. With the chicken feet it was a pedicure, and with the pig head it's a shave!
So once the head is all clean and stubble-free, I removed the ears and set them aside. Then it was time to de-bone. This would have gone a whole lot better if I had a good boning knife, which I don't. That made for a very long and tedious de-boning project. I started by cutting a line down the jaw and worked my way up and around, staying as close to the bone as possible. I tell ya, without a good knife it was a real son of a gun, but I got it.
Once the ears and face were removed, I put them in plastic bags and put them in the refrigerator for later projects. My immediate projects require nothing more than the skull.
Much to my surprise (and gratitude), the skull was already split down the center. I removed the lower jaw and set it aside, and simply pulled the two halves of the skull apart to reveal the brains. Unfortunately they had been damaged in the process and I had to scoop the two parts out into a bowl. I never expected brains to be so... well... pudding-y.
Next, the brains. Project two.
I've never had brains before. Trying something new and (for many people) taboo was very exciting. Because the brains were damaged I wasn't sure if, or how, to poach them. Instead I simply put them in the refrigerator to firm up, and started some coconut oil heating in a pan.
With the pan nice and hot I scooped the brains out by the spoonful into the hot oil. Brains are extremely delicate, which meant not moving them much and being very gentile when they did need to be turned.
The results, while not incredibly photogenic, were incredibly delicious. It's funny, all I could think of was sardines- or the skin at least, in aftertaste. The texture was very soft, not quite like the eggs. Less firm. They were very rich and savory, and do balance well with the lightness of the eggs. I am officially a fan of brains.
After a very long day of de-boning a head and cooking brains, I was exhausted. This was turning into a bigger project, or series of projects, than I had anticipated. I decided to put off the other two projects- pig ears, and pig face- for another day.
Stay tuned for more pig head projects. Trust me, they're much more delicious than the first two, and much prettier to look at!