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Red Head Cheese

I have not been making sausage for a few weeks, mainly beause I needed to free some freezer space. But now it is time for another project.

Red Head cheese is just as much a variety of head cheese as it is a variety of blutwurst. There really isn’t a solid line that separates the two, but obviously in head cheese the gelatinous and connective tissue component is dominating.

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Apart from the amount of salt, I deliberately made this sausage without any exact weighing or measuring. As long as the proportion of ingredients stays within certain limits, this is pretty much foolproof: More chunks than blutwurst base and more skins than blood in the blutwurst base. The texture will of course vary but other than with emulsified sausages there is no real “sweet spot” where otherwise you might end up with a sausage that is either too firm, too mushy or too dry.

Feel free to adjust the proportions to your taste. Also the seasoning can be varied. I added some pork back fat but this is not strictly necessary. On the other hand it is possible to add pre-cured tounge or heart as well. So this is not a recipe in the traditional sense but rather a guideline for making your own “personalised” red head cheese.

Ingredient guideline (per kg) :

  • Pig’s blood: 150 to 250 ml
  • Pig’s head skin: 150 to 250 g
  • Pig’s head meat: 300 to 700 g
  • Pork back fat: 0 to 200 g
  • Curing salt (0.5% nitrite content): 25 g
  • Pepper: 2 to 4 g
  • Dried herbs: 1 to 2 g
  • Other spices: 0.5 to 1 g each
  • Large diameter sausage casing

For the broth:

  • Carrot, celeriac, leek, bay leaves

I used (estimated):

  • Pig’s blood: 200 ml
  • Pig’s head skin: 250 g
  • Pig’s head meat: 400 g
  • Pork back fat: 150 g
  • Curing salt (0.5% nitrite content): 25 g
  • Cubeb pepper: 2.5 g
  • Dried thyme: 1 g
  • Cardamom: 1 g
  • Allspice: 0.5 g
  • Cloves: 0.5 g
  • Pork bung

Practically, you buy as much pig’s head as you fancy, and after cooking you separate meat and the skin and weigh the two so you know how much blood you should add. The less blood in relation to skin is used, the firmer the texture of the base will be.

Preparation:

Gently simmer the pig’s head for 2 hours in a lightly salted broth with the vegetables. In the final 10 minutes add the back fat, if you use it. Soak the sausage casing in tepid water.

Separate skins and meat from the pig’s heads. Cut meat and back fat into small pieces. Grind the skins with a medium coarse plate (3 to 4.5 mm) in your meat grinder. Carefully heat the blood to 30 to 40 degrees.

First mix skins and blood, then add meat, fat and the seasonings. Carefully mix in some broth for a texture that just is not quite runny but not too far from it.

Fill the sausage casing with the sausage stuffer, taking care not to stuff too tightly. The filling will expand a bit during simmering, and we don’t want the casing to burst. Tie off the end and simmer the head cheese in the broth at 70 degrees for at least 1 minute per millimetre thickness. If necessary top up the broth with water.

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Cool down and refrigerate overnight. When using a natural casing you can put a weight on top so the head cheese will become more compact.

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You can cut the sausage on the next day, but it is also possible to smoke and air-dry it.

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Note: When making this I forgot to blanch the back fat in the broth. The result is some blood diffusing into the margin of the cubes and some tiny pockets caused by the fat shrinking. It is a minor visual flaw but nothing serious.

 

 

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • jude 3rd June 2015, 1:38 am

    Absolutely fascinating process. Impossible to access these ingredients in Australia, even if I were game to attempt this recipe. I presume this type of sausage will be available for purchase at the Munich Viktualienmarkt?

    • oliver 3rd June 2015, 6:08 am

      The general type of sausage is common all over southern Germany but the details can vary quite a bit. Most Munich butchers make it in the Bavarian style which is bouncier and has a larger amount of blutwurst base. This one is closer to the Franconian style which you will probably be able to find at “Fränkisches Wursthäusle” on the Viktualienmarkt http://www.mux.de/Frankenhaeusl. And you should ask for “Roter Presssack” there 😉

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