Crispy Pork Cheek Terrine (AKA Scrapple)
Robert Belcham, of Vancouver, B.C.’s Refuel and Campagnolo restaurants, applies a “waste not” cooking principle to a pig’s head in this recipe for Crispy Pork Cheek Terrine (aka Scrapple).
Butcher shops and specialty meat providers throughout the Northwest sell pig’s heads at prices ranging from just over a dollar per pound to $5 per pound, depending on the provenance of the pork. For instance, for about $3.25 a pound, Tails and Trotters (www.tailsandtrotters.com) in Portland, Oregon, sell hazelnut-finished heritage bred pork. As for the arduous task of splitting the head, make sure to ask your butcher to do this when attempting this recipe, which isn’t nearly as daunting as it may seem.
Other sources include Windsor Meats (www.windsormeats.com), in Vancouver, B.C. In Seattle, try Rain Shadow Meats (www.rainshadowmeats.com) or buy from these Oregon-based meat suppliers—www.carltonfarms.com or www.nickyusa.com—and have the head shipped.
Courtesy of Robert Belcham, Refuel and Campagnolo restaurants, Vancouver, B.C.
Summary: Makes 2 (or more) crispy pork cheek terrines.
- 1 pig’s head (weighing 15–20 pounds), split lengthwise, with tongue and brains, rinsed thoroughly
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves, crushed
- 3 Tablespoons lard (or butter)
- 2 cups carrots, roughly chopped
- 2 cups yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 2 cups celery, roughly chopped
- 2 cups white wine
- 1 handful of stems + ¼ cup finely chopped (leaves only) fresh parsley
- 6-8 sprigs + 1 Tablespoon finely chopped thyme
- 1 gallon hot water
- 1 cup cornmeal
- To make the terrine, remove the brain and place in a nonreactive container. Add cold water to cover and a teaspoon of salt. Soak for 8 hours, replacing the water and salt every 2–3 hours.
- In a bowl, mix the salt, brown sugar, pepper, and bay leaves together until blended. Rub the mixture all over the head and tongue. Put the head into a large container, cover it, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 190?F.
- Rinse the head and tongue under cold water, and discard any juices that have collected in the container.
- In a large roasting pan, melt the lard over medium-high heat, and then add the carrot, onion, and celery. Cook until softened but not browned, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the white wine and reduce until almost dry.
- To the vegetables, add the head and tongue, parsley stems, and a few sprigs of thyme. Add hot water, enough to submerge the head one-half to two-thirds of the way up. Cover with parchment paper and then foil. Place into the preheated oven and cook for 12 hours until very tender. Remove from oven and uncover. Leave head in the liquid until cool enough to handle.
- Remove head and meat from the liquid and place in a large bowl. Strain the braising liquid through a fine mesh sieve into another large bowl. Pour liquid into a fat separator, degrease 8 cups, and pour into a large saucepan.
- Reduce over high heat by about half. Reduce heat to low, whisk in the cornmeal, and cook uncovered, stirring frequently, until tender, about 25 minutes.
- While the cornmeal is cooking, pass the brains through a fine mesh sieve and reserve.
- Pick the meat off the bones, discarding bones, any hard pieces of cartilage (such as the ear canal), glands (located at the back of the jaw), and extraneous skin and fat.
- Mix in chopped thyme and parsley leaves.
- When the cornmeal is cooked, take off the heat and stir in the brain. Add the cornmeal mixture to the pork and herbs, and mix well.
- Pack the mixture tightly into a terrine mold. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to set.
- To finish the dish, unmold the terrine and cut it into ½-inch-thick slices.
- In a cast iron skillet or heavy bottomed pan over high heat, add about a teaspoon of lard or other cooking oil. When very hot, add the slice of terrine. Fry on one side until crispy and golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip it with a spatula to the other side, and then remove it from the heat to let it warm through.
- Serve with toast and eggs cooked to your liking, topped with a heaping spoonful of salsa verde. Or try it cold, served with pickles and mustard.
- Use or freeze within 1 week.
Photos by Peter Szymczak
More on Robert Belcham’s nose-to-tail cooking philosophy in the Pigs & Pinot issue ( September/October 2010 )