MAKE: Pig's Head Torchon

Since we have had more than our fair share of rainy days recently I have tried to do my best whilst being home bound, by spending more time reading cookbooks and making more food! I bought the Momofuku cookbook two years ago and have been and will continue to dip in and out of it till I next return to New York to sample some Chang magic myself. I haven't yet tried the legendary pork buns but did decide to dedicate an afternoon to make the lust worthy pork filling. This recipe however is not for the faint hearted, and most definitely not for the vegetarians, but I do urge you to try it on another rainy weekend where only deep fried meat will do ...

half a pigs head 3.6 - 5kg
1 bunch of spring onions
2 carrots
1 onion, split in half
coarse sea salt
2 tbsp of grapeseed oil or any other neutral oil
4 tbsp of finely chopped garlic
freshly groung black pepper
about 140g plain flour, or more if so needed
3 large eggs
120g panko
and oil for deep frying

Prep andSimmer: Remove any large patches of hair with a disposable razor.
Put the head, veg and enough water to cover in a large stockpot and salt aggressively, bring to the boil. When boiling bring down to a gentle simmer - 
leave bubbling lightly for 3 1/2 hours until tender. Remove from the heat.
Garlic addition: Whilst the head is cooling, cook the garlic in the 2 tbsp of oil till golden brown, then reserve.

Disassemble: Now prepare your kitchen counter; line the work surface with cling film and line up three bowls - one large one for waste and two smaller ones for meat and fat. It's also advised to use plastic gloves, not the marigold kind but  the thin plastic ones so you can feel around for nuggets of meat!

Start by discarding the broth, if you're thinking what a waste, so did I but it is too porky and not in a good way. 

Transfer the head cheek down to the cling filmed surface, you should be able to pull out the top part of the skull and place in the waste bowl. So too with the eye, there is a nice chunk near the eye, place it in the meat bowl. Pull out the jaw, twist off the snout and discard.

The next part is just about feeling your way through; all meat is stringy and soft (pulled pork like) and fat is white as you would expect, most of it is layered underneath larger sheets of skin (break away and chop as much as you can, I was too thrifty with the fat but more is best.) Don't forget the tongue meat, slice it open so the inside is facing you and add the meat from inside the membrane to the meat bowl - its delicious and succulent. There aren't any other real guidelines apart from let your fingers lead you to the meaty jewels, there are many to be had.

All three bowls should look pretty full and perhaps you are only left with the ear. It is up to you as to whether you want to cut it into strips and deep fry or just to discard this also.

Now what to do with your harvested pig goodness, season the meat with salt and pepper. Taste it and adjust accordingly. From the book I think you are supposed to use the cling film layer as the wrapping for the meat "sausage" but I had sliced through mine clumsily with my knife, so I just relaid some more. 

"Lay the carpet of fat": covering a rectangle of 7.5cm by 10cm, then scatter with the meat within the middle and leaving 2.5cm of fat around the edges and scatter the crispened garlic.
And on to the rolling, where it is advised to remove your gloves if you have been using any, but basically the aim of the game is to roll it up like a swiss roll, and as tight as you can. The book says "lift up the near edge of the cling film and bring it towards you...once in a loose log, push from the ends to tighten up...twist the ends of the cling film to force into a tight cylindrical shape"- however I think more pictures would have been more helpful, mine ended up like this:

Sausage slices: Now its just a couple of hours in the fridge for the fat to firm up so its all a bit more solid and ready for frying prep or it can be frozen for a few months (allow 24 hours of defrosting in the fridge before frying.) So remove the clingfilm from the torchon, slice 2.5cm pucks. 

Just a little digression, I mentionned the tighter the sausage Swiss roll the better. Do not fear if your cling film wrapping skills aren't up to much, mine aren't quite there either and you can see from above that the odd slice are pretty loose. All is not lost though, blitz down the meat so it is more malleable, poach an egg and wrap the meat around it. Coat with three layers as below and deep fry et viola the most delectable by product - pig head meat scotch egg!

Prepare 3 bowls :-flour, the lightly beaten eggs and panko. Dredge and coat each one one at a time to ensure each is aptly covered. I found that a squeezy top turkey baster was perfect for targetting the non  egged bits.
Heat 7.5cm of oil in a deep pot over a medium - high heat until deep fry ready, if you have a themometer the oil should be at 190˚. Fry two at a time for 3 minutes or until panko is golden brown, drain onto paper towels.
Pork Accessories: For the pickled cherries stone and halve 900g for a stash worth storing in the fridge. Crack the stones with a pestle and mortar, wrap in muslin. Now combine 225 ml hot water,125ml rice wine vinegar, 6 tbspsugar and muslin packet in a suacepan and bring to the boil. Pour over cherries, cool then refrigerate till ready for use.
For the sauce mix 40g of spicy Japanese mustard (or Colman's in my case,) 1 1/2 tbsp Kewpie mayo (which I managed to retrieve from Chinatown, Soho) and 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar.

Plate up:
Now to the best bit, the serving. Mix the garnish ingredients and smear the sauce on the plate, eat with pickled or fresh cherries and butterhead lettuce.
There you have it, less scary looking than what we started with but unbeatable meaty flavour. The bitter sweet cherries cut through the richness, whilst the mayonnaise mix evens out, mediating between the two. Texture is a heavenly blend of melt in the mouth fat, succulent meat chunks and frayed crunchiness. 

1 comment:

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