Pigs head with caramelised Quince
It’s time to cast aside our delicate British sensibilities on what limbs and appendages of the beast we eat. ‘Head to tail’ eating is by no means a new concept and has a long history in many cultures, and although we may be brave and order slightly left field of menu when eating out, I wonder how many would attempt cooking the swine’s head at home. The fact is, there is a lot more to an animal than the choice cuts. Pigs heads are cheap and when roasted feature a tonne of different rich mouthfeels, that make for an interesting eat and a perfect dish to pick over and talk over, even if that’s just raising the question, ‘is this bit edible?’
ROASTED PIGS HEAD
½ Pigs head
6 shallots, peeled and left whole
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and left whole
a few sprigs each of Rosemary, thyme and parsley and sage
a glass of Marsala wine
½ a bottle White wine
Chicken stock, hot
Salt and pepper to season
2 Sprigs of thyme
1 Bay leaf
4 Black peppercorns
To roast the pigs head, remove any hairs on the head with a disposable razor, rinse the head. Place a large roasting dish over the heat of your hob. Add a generous spoon of duck fat to the pan and allow to melt. Add the shallots and garlic to the fat and colour slightly, but do not burn. Sit the pigs head in the pan, on top of the shallots and garlic, skin side up, wrapping the ear with tin foil so it doesn’t burn. Scatter the herbs around the pan, pour the marsala and white wine over the head and top the pan up with hot chicken stock until the head is partially submerged. season, cover the pan and cook in a 190°c oven for 2½ – 3 hours until the meat is very soft. Towards the end of cooking remove the cover to brown up the skin. Once cooked remove from the roasting dish and keep warm. Skim out the garlic and shallots and reserve.
To cook the caramelised quince, core and cut the quince into wedges place in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients, cover with water and simmer until the quinces become soft and can be pierced with a fork. Drain and dry on kitchen paper, once dry toss in the sugar, heat a griddle pan until hot and add the sugar coated quince pieces to it; allowing the quince to become marked, turn and repeat on each side. Meanwhile, cook some seasonal greens in a pan of hot salted water.
To serve, place the greens on a large platter or plate, forming a bed. Arrange the pigs head on top, scattering the garlic, shallots and quince pieces around the sides. Take to the table and dig in.