A recipe: Pig’s Head Croquettes with Salsa Verde

Like so many people I often find myself wondering what to do with the severed head lying around in my fridge. This commonly happens on Boxing Day after the previous night’s Suckling Pig Roast, when the sad, lifeless hog face glaring accusingly at me from the shelf serves as a bracing reminder of the importance of nose-to-tail eating. This recipe involves getting your hands dirty and is best not approached on a hangover, but the results are unfathomably delicious and an excellent way of using up every last scrap out of respect for the animal that gives its life for your eating pleasure, festive or otherwise. The sharpness of the salsa verde provides the perfect contrast to the rich, fatty pork.
For the croquettes
1 x suckling pig’s head[1] (plus any trotters and bones you have left)
1 x shallot, finely chopped
1x clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 x fistful parsley, leaves finely chopped
1 x teaspoon paprika (the loudest, liveliest you can find)
1 x bay leaf
1 x sprig of thyme
1 x sprig of rosemary
a few white/black peppercorns, mustard seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, any other seeds you have kicking around
salt/pepper
Flour, to dust
2 x eggs, beaten
Lots of breadcrumbs
Sunflower oil, for fryingFor the salsa verde
100 ml extra virgin olive oil
50 ml red wine vinegar
1 x tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 x garlic clove
Juice of half a lemon
Another fistful of parsley
Salt/pepper1. Place the head and any other bones in a large saucepan. Add the bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, peppercorns, seeds plus enough water to cover and bring slowly to the boil. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook low and slow for a good 3-4 hours until the flesh is falling away from the bone.2. Drain the pig and discard the water.[2] Leave until cool.

3. This is the gruesome part. Remove every last bit of meat and fat from the pig’s head, leaving the eyes and brain behind but making sure to keep any slightly chewy bits. If you want the tongue, keep it, but I tend to leave that out too. Do the same with all the other bones and transfer the meat to a bowl, making sure there are no small bones lying around (particularly from the trotters).

4. Add the chopped shallot, garlic, paprika and parsley to the meat and mix well with your hands. Season to taste.

5. Using your hands, shape the meat into individual patties about the size of a small fishcake. The mixture will be quite loose, but as long as you get a rough shape that’s fine. Line a tray with greaseproof paper and place the patties on top, keeping a good few centimetres in between each one.

6. Chill the patties in the fridge for minimum one hour, until very firm.

7. Make the salsa verde by putting everything in a blender until you get a vivid green mixture like a thick salad dressing. If you feel it needs more mustard/vinegar/oil/lemon then shove it in and blend again until it’s right[3]. Season to taste.

8. One by one, dust the firmed patties in flour before dipping them in the beaten egg and coating them with breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan with some depth (a wok will do).

9. Fry for around 6 minutes until golden, turning occasionally to ensure even cooking.

10. Serve the croquettes on a plate with the salsa verde in the middle and watch them vanish in seconds.

[1] If you’re using an adult pig’s head then you’ll need a much bigger pan and may even need to saw the head in half. You’ll also need to double the quantities of everything else in the croquettes.
[2] If you really want to use it as stock you can but that’s your decision and I won’t take responsibility when it turns out to be gelatinous and disgusting and spoils your risotto.
[3] I’m assuming that anyone willing to try a pig’s head recipe will know how to adjust a salad dressing to their taste.

An Actor Consumes dmca-badge-w150-2x1-03 A recipe: Pig's Head Croquettes with Salsa Verde

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