Pork organs, liver mostly, just do not freeze well. Not at all. Best to take those organs and cook them up fresh as a feast if you have enough hungry mouths to feed. In this case, I took all of these gorgeous, glossy gems and lightly cooked them up in batches with some ghee, garden herbs and leeks.
From there it was great globs of ghee, some bone broth, homemade vinegar and some raw cream before whizzing it all up and packing it in jars. At that point they can be frozen. Best fresh, but I ended up with 30 jars so to the freezer they went.
Last night we feasted on bone marrow bones and other delights, here at the Weston A. Price conference. You know things are good when the abundance of bone marrow bones necessitates an announcement to “pleases eat more”. Ok, no prob, I can help you with that.
Here’s a little tidbit from my kitchen vaults, something I rely on for school lunches and meals on-the-go: jerky with little containers of whipped animal fats. Jerky is too lean alone. Delicious but lean. Whipped fat takes all those luscious animal fats, oozing with those critical fat soluble nutrients missing in our modern day diets, and delivers them in a smorgasbord of sublime, symphonic spreads.
Ok, it’s this easy. When I roast bones to make broth, we eat some marrow and set the rest aside (in a container in the freezer if I’m not using it right away). To the marrow (thawed if previously frozen), I add whatever other animal fat I have that’s tasty. This time around it was some pork fat from a smoky jowl, some of our raw butter, and a little ghee. Then I throw in some salt, a bit of fresh thyme and rosemary, and a sprinkling of some dried foraged mushrooms. That all gets whipped in a food processor, but you can use a hand blender, blender, or whatever you have. Taste and adjust saltiness.
It’s not a recipe, no wrong here. Add what you like. It’s still delicious with just salt and fat.
I store mine in wee little jars in the freezer. If we’re on the road and need to grab some jerky or other lean meat, we’re covered for nutrients and satiation.
My daughter brought this beef heart jerky with a container of these luscious lipids with her to school today. I’d confidently bet she has the best lunch at school.
It’s easy, but there’s many ways to end up with a disaster. These are sticky, gelatinous, spattering delights. Best to get it right.
Here’s how I do it:
Clean the ears with a preliminary wipe.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Put the ears in, leave to boil for ten minutes.
Scoop out ears, dump out that water (consider that round a bath for the ears and nobody wants to eat dirty ear bath water).
Fill the pot back up and get it back to a boil.
While you’re waiting for the water to boil, take some dry tea/paper towels and really clean out the ears of any pieces of loose skin or dirty bits.
Once water is boiling agin, return the ears to the pot.
Allow pot to remain on rolling simmer for a few hours.
Check the ears every now and then by piercing with the point of a sharp knife. They should be tender, without crunch. If you take them out before the cartilage is broken down, you’re ripping yourself off from pleasure and bioavailable nutrients. 🐷
When ready, drain and allow to cool on cupboard on a pan lined with paper/tea towels. Leave until cool and then change towels under the ears and put in fridge, uncovered. This is where they must stay for a few days. It’s essential that they are dry as a bone when they meet your cast iron pan. I turn the ears over every day and check them to see how dry they are. I wait a minimum of three days. When they’re dry enough, you can run your finger along the skin without any tackiness.
When ready to cook, add either lard, ghee, bacon fat, or duck fat to a cast iron pan. Be generous with the fat, a few big blobs are in order. Get your pan very hot.
Slice the ears at the base in roughly 1/2 inch slices. When you are done with the canal bits, just cut a small notch at the bottom of the ear so that you can lay it flat in the pan. You can cut it into strips but doing so exposes more of the sticky gelatin bits and things get messy. I prefer cutting after it’s cooked.
Put ears in pan with a weight on the big ear ‘flap’, and quickly tent the pan loosely with a piece of aluminum foil. This is just to protect you and your kitchen from the snapping that’s about to happen. Cook until crispy brown, flip and do it all over again. Make sure they’re golden and crispy.
.Put ears on paper/tea towel on a plate, sprinkle with coarse salt (we love smoked salt) and a few sprinkles of homemade vinegar if you like (more on that here #slowdownfarmsteadvinegar).
That’s it, you’ve made crispy pig ears! It took me a lot of experimenting to figure this out. My pain, your gain. Enjoy!
Please be advised that I abhor the idea of recipes with numbers and measurements and I’d rather throw myself into a thrashing pond of alligators than talk about 1/4 teaspoon this, 1/2 tablespoon that. Recipes are not my thing, but I do hope to inspire and motivate and help with processes whenever I can. Now, go make some pig ears and delight in your cooking prowess!
Tête fromagée or headcheese or brawn or whatever it’s called in your locale.
I’m going with the French in honour of my French Canadian side. My daughter thinks brawn is the way to go, but she’s about as German as they get. And I mean that in all the best ways.
Regardless of what you call it, this flavour concentration of deep piggy delights all wrapped up in the naturally present gelatine in the pig’s head is a soothing, nourishing, convenience food that is a delight to the tastebuds and the body.
Never mind isolated, canned powders to get the benefits of collagen and gelatine when the full compliment of nutrients, measurable and immeasurable, are inherent in foods that deliver them on a boat of deliciousness.
Pig’s heads aren’t exactly a hot commodity. My guess is you can get one for pretty cheap, possibly even for free from your farmer or butcher. I have seven in my freezer. That would be the freezer that has become colloquially known as the “head chest”. Alas, as there is a season for ingredients so, too, is there for cooking. For tête fromagerée, that’s in the fall or winter when long, steamy cooking has the added benefit of heating your house and gelatine sets properly in the coolness of the room.
This one was frozen from last year. The last of the big batches I made and stored now all eaten. Now I shall begin with this year’s load.
There really isn’t any special recipe. My recommendation would be to start with a basic, foolproof one like in the River Cottage cookbook (a must have). Make it once, consider the flavours you’d change and tweak it every time you make it. That’s cooking. Learn basic techniques and then use that skill to buy you freedom to experiment.
Alternatively, if you want a more gradual approach into the wonder of this food but a pig head seems a bit daunting, there’s a great recipe on the UK Guardian by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall using pork trotters.
By the way, I own every last publication put out by the River Cottage. Their “Meat” cookbook is a luscious treatise to the wonder of well raised, well prepared meat that belongs in the kitchen of anyone that wants to learn how to honour these beautiful foods.
The oft used, least appreciated ingredient in my pantry – “herbes salées” (or, for the non-French Canadians in the house, basically ‘salted herbs’). Yes, even on my nose to tail, whole animal foods way of eating, I use this wonder ingredient often.
It’s used as a spice would be, very concentrated in flavour (please don’t eat it out if the jar and send me hate mail). A little dab will do ya’. This is what you do when herbs are growing in the summer so that you have that fresh flavour throughout the year.
Herbes Salées is essentially just a whack of finely minced fresh herbs that are salted. After salting you can ferment them or just stick them in a cold pantry or your fridge. Either way, you will have fresh herbs, at the ready, that will last for well over a year.
So, do be careful with the salt you use. I use Redmond Real Salt @redmondrealsalt (even my farm animals get this salt) or Giddy Yoyo @giddyyoyo salt exclusively. I buy salt in bulk. Neither of those companies pay me but maybe they should. A mountain of free salt for Tara! I put their names there because last time I avoided listing companies and man, people got so pissy with me. You can read about why I avoid sea salt and go for the best salts available here #slowdownfarmsteadsalt
The difference between preserving herbs this way and drying them is profound. These herbs are very concentrated and bright in flavour. Like, zing-zang, whoa-mama flavour. A little smidge makes a cup of bone broth sing. Added to some fat that you smear all over a braising roast and you got something special. Added to homemade sausages or eggs. A dollop in bearnaise, a plop in your stew, a spoonful in your hollandaise.
You are the almighty ruler of your kitchen kingdom, oh giver of deliciousness. You decide.
When fresh herb season is gone, I make my marrow butter using my preserved herbs. It’s as easy as adding herbes salées to melty bone marrow and raw butter and pouring it in moulds. Then I have a bunch of these delicious and nutrient dense fatty bites at the ready should a little lean meat or PMS cross my path.
Use what herbs you have and use what combinations you want. I make different ones and list what I put in them on the jar so I can see what flavours I like combined with what proteins.
In yesterday’s batch I included the following herbs from my garden (and some that were foraged): marjoram/tarragon/chives/tansy/rue/rosemary/a lot of thyme because that’s a favourite/sage/golden rod/asters/a few tomato leaves/leek/lovage/dill/burnet/Italian parsley.
I like making different ones. A favourite is a combination of Christmas/Thanksgiving type flavours of rosemary/sage/thyme/parsley. It’s so comforting and handy when you want those flavours but you’re limited to dried herbs or greenhouse grown herbs.
For details on fermenting, it’s best to get your legs under you by experimenting. I’ve been doing it for a long time and just know salt volumes by taste. The Shockeys have the best fermenting books out there, I recommend them often. However, like I said, no fermentation is necessary for this recipe. The salt is your preservative.
You can either salt the bunch of herbs liberally and mix through before packing in jars or you can add a layer of salt to a jar, add a layer of your minced herbs, then another layer of salt and so on until your jar is packed to the top. If you need more detailed directions, look up a recipe online and use that until you’re comfortable.
Regardless of how you make it, fermented or not, give it a month to develop its flavours before using. Store it in your fridge and there it will keep for well over a year. Summer’s sunshine illuminating the beautiful, nutrient dense animal foods on your plate.
You know a recipe is good when your children dub it “your porkchops” or “your roast beef”, stuff like that. So good that it somehow weaves its way into the fabric of your familial traditions. So beloved, in fact, that the lead up to any visit home includes anticipatory phone calls listing all the meals said children want to eat and you know what they are before they’re even spoken.
These pork chops fall into that category. Humble pork chops. But, I rarely remember a fancy meal either. What I do remember is my Slovak Bapka’s chicken soup with tiny little dumplings, her poppyseed kolach, and her perogies. Actually, I think I remember every single thing that amazing woman ever made.
But I also remember my French Canadian grandmother’s heavily peppered soups that warmed me to my toes. Her glorious cinnamon buns, now gone forever. I remember my mother’s cheesy broccoli casserole, my father’s oven baked apples swimming in butter and cinnamon.
People say, “food isn’t love” and I think that’s entirely wrong. I get where the sentiment is coming from given our distortion around food, but food is indeed love. Even a simple fried egg, raised well, prepared with conscious care is a vehicle of deep affection.
All really good food comes wrapped in love.
That’s why homemade food always tastes the best. It’s why my food will never taste like my Bapka’s. That was her food. This is mine. Yours is yours.
You can scroll over to see how I make these pork chops. I first had them years ago when my beloved friend, the Grand Matriarch of Redtail Farm @redtail_farms, made them for me. I wrote down what we did when we made them so I wouldn’t forget. I need not have. I have no idea how close this is to the original, but they are perfection. So tender they fall off the bone, but all the crispy fattiness a good piece of pork should deliver.
By the way, if you have tried the best quality pork on offer, from heritage breed, organic and pasture raised pigs, and you still have trouble digesting it, I hear you. You need to read the articles on the Weston A Price Journal on the proper preparation of pork and how that drastically changes how it’s assimilated in your hot bod (hint: marinate).
So tender they fall off the bone, but all the crispy fattiness a good piece of pork should deliver
Smash a few heads of garlic with the side of your knife (leave the skins on)
Put a few blobs of fat (I used bacon fat and ghee) in the bottom of a cast iron dutch oven and sizzle up your garlic for a minute or two
Add seasoned pork chops (I sprinkled mine with mushroom salt and sumac spice from mushrooms from mushrooms I foraged/dried/mixed with salt and herbs and sumac I foraged and dried). You can use any spice you like, this is about preparation, not me telling you which flavours you like.
Once browned on both sides, remove from the pan
Deglaze by adding a few glugs of bone broth to the pan with a splash of balsamic vinegar (or whatever vinegar you like).
Use a wooden spoon to work up all the browned bits
Add the pork chops back to the pan, cover them with garlic that should be nicely browned and still in skins
Cook, covered at 400f for about 20 minutes, then turn heat down to 325f-350f depending on how long you have. The lower the better. Don't open the oven.
Check them for doneness after 20 minutes or so, and flip them over
If they're done, take off the lid and brown them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up that delicious fat
Serve with the pan juices poured on top. Serve with a few garlic bulbs that everyone can pop out and smear across their own chop
I brown some onions and garlic in heaps of fat (lard/tallow/ghee/duck, whatever). Throw in some sliced bacon and shiitakes if you want.I used venison/beef/duck liver this go around. Use whatever healthy liver you want with the exception of frozen pork liver (fresh is fine). If you like frozen pork liver, fine use it. I don’t like it in paté and it can turn off someone just getting into eating this beautiful food. Clean your livers first, cut out membranes and stringy bits and feed them to your ever-loyal, ever-begging dogs.
Add livers to your cast iron pan because all you cook in is cast iron because you know there ain’t any other way to cook. Add seasoning (I used fresh rosemary and thyme with wild foraged mushroom powder because those are my favourite). Salt and pepper. Don’t overcook, the livers should still be pink inside.
At this point, a lot of recipes call for alcohol and cream – both good, but I don’t drink alcohol, nor do I cook with it and we’re not milking right now. Instead, and preferred, I pour in some bone broth and great blobs of ghee and, this time, added brown butter ghee.
Remove any fresh herb stalks you cooked with and whiz away in food processor. Taste, adjust seasonings, add more bone broth and fat to get the creamy texture you like. It should be thick, don’t add too much broth.
At this point you can work the paté through a sieve to get out any gritty bits, but I’d rather walk through coals so I don’t. Put paté in jars with a bit of headspace if you’re going to add fat to seal them. If not, just fill up the jar.
Rabbit heart/kidney/liver paté made in minutes. Stirred up all the bits with a shallot, some garlic, and some salted herbs in a sea of ghee in a cast iron pan until pink inside. Threw in some rabbit bone broth, more ghee, seasoned to taste, blended it all up, potted in containers, cooled, and topped with a blend of ghee and duck fat. Finished by polishing off a jar, just me and my tablespoon. Four jars into the freezer, the rest into our bellies for the next week, or however long they last.
I had a few people ask me about making headcheese. Headcheese is an incredibly nutritious and delicious food that epitomizes the spirit of thrift. Do you see these companies cropping up all over the place convincing people that making bone broth or getting gelatin and collagen in their diets is a huge pain in the ass and, therefore, just buy product A, B, or C? Nah. We know better. No refined food product, I don’t care what it is, can hold a light to whole foods. Here’s the real deal and all of the extras you miss out on when you go for big dollar convenience. Check out the gelatin I got out of this batch! 16 liters! Headcheese is a REAL friend with benefits.
To make: 1️⃣ In this batch I had an organic, pastured pig head with brains, two trotters, and a couple of pig’s tails. I brine that in salt water for a day in a big crock.
2️⃣ I then divided the brined piggy parts into two 18 litre pots and added herbs. Use what you like. This time I used bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, onions, garlic, and rue because that’s what was in my garden. Simmer for 5 hours.
3️⃣ I plucked out the pig parts and let them cool. I then ran the reduced liquid through cheesecloth and put it back on the stove to simmer down to 1/2.
4️⃣ I plucked all the meat, cartilage, and fat from the bones, coarsely chopped them up and added salt and pepper. There is way more fat than what you can use in a balanced mix. I put that extra fat and gelatin-y bits into bags and froze them. It will be used for supplemental nutrition for winter feeding barn cats, farm doggies, and fowl.
5️⃣ After putting seasoned meat/fat in containers, I poured glugs of the reduced liquid on top. Then they went in the fridge to set into a delicious mass that can be sliced with a knife.
6️⃣ I then poured all of that reduced, super concentrated gelatin into jars that are frozen. When I make bone broth, soups, sauces etc. I add one of these gelatin jars for extra nutrition and flavour.
That’s it, that’s all. For detailed instructions, you can find a lot of recipes online. It’s almost impossible to fuck it up. It’s an incredibly gut-healing, soul-satisfying food that honours every last bit of the animal.
Can’t find organic, pastured pork rinds that taste infinitely better than anything on the market? Make your own! Time consuming? Yes. Easy? Yes. Phenomenally delicious? Oh, hell, yes!
I had a few bags of organic pig skin from our piggies in the freezer. Best to save it up and do it all at once (you can get the skin all prepped and then freeze it before the final “puffing” stage so you can make some fresh any old time the desire hits – glass jar full in pics). There’s a million tutorials online so I will skip the details and just give you a glimpse into the overall process.
1. Soaking skins in water until soft.
2. Scraping fat off backs of skin (save it, render down, use as frying fat later).
3. Cut skins into strips.
4. Dehydrate or put in lowest oven setting until they’re so hard they crack.
5. Heat up your lard (I add bacon fat for extra deliciousness). Puff those bad boys up!
6. Season when hot with a variety of spices. My current fave is my wild fungi salt. My hubs and the kids like to make homemade dip for them, but I like them plain.
It’s like eating chips, if eating chips weren’t poisonous and horrible. These are nourishing and satisfying and, ya, actually, I can eat just one!