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Catholic Recipe: Jellied Pig's Head


  • 1 pig's head
  •  Brine
  • 1 part salt to 9 parts water
  •  Stock
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lemon rind
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • 6 whole cloves
  • salt
  • vinegar
  • parsley
  • Details

  • Prep Time: 5 days
  • Difficulty: • • • •
  • Cost: $$$$
  • For Ages: 15+
  • Origin: Ireland

Back in his own country our Irishman would have eaten (for all fast-day laws are suspended on Saint Patrick's Day) succulent chops, boiled ham, roast chicken, or good roast beef and these he could easily find in New York too. But he would have had trouble locating an Irish extra-special dish such as this eaten only on great occasions.


Clean the pig's head thoroughly, split it in two, and allow it to pickle for four days in a brine made of one part salt to nine parts water. Then put into a large pot, cover with water, and add 1 large onion quartered, a clove of garlic (optional), the rind of 1 lemon, 1 bay leaf, 6 whole peppercorns, and 6 whole cloves. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer for three to four hours, that is, until the meat is tender but unbroken. The most delicate part of the next operation is removing all of the bones while still retaining the shape of the head. The tongue may be cut up and inserted in various places where the cooking has caused a loss of fat. Place the head in a deep bowl and cover with the stock, adding salt if necessary and a little white vinegar, just enough to make it tart. Set in a cool place until the stock has jellied. Unmould and cut in very thin slices. Serve with a necklace of parsley.

Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951
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