Head cheese (AmE) or brawn (BrE) is a cold cut originating in Europe. Another version pickled with vinegar is known as souse. Head cheese is not a cheese but a meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig (sometimes a sheep or cow) in aspic. While the parts used can vary, the brain, eyes and ears are often removed. The tongue, and sometimes even the feet and heart may be included. Head cheese may be flavored with onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, salt, and vinegar. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat. Can also be made from quality trimmings from pork and veal;adding gelatin to the stock as a binder.
Historically meat jellies were made of the cleaned (all organs removed) head of the animal, which was simmered to produce stock, a peasant food made since the Middle Ages. When cooled, the stock congeals because of the natural gelatin found in the skull. The aspic may need additional gelatin in order to set properly.
In other countries
Various versions exist around the world:
Souse is pickled meat and trimmings usually made from pig's feet, chicken feet or cow's tongue to name a few. The cooked meat or trimmings are cut into bite sized pieces and soaked in a brine made of water, lime juice, cucumbers, hot pepper, salt and specially prepared seasonings. It is usually eaten on Saturday mornings especially in St. Vincent and Barbados. In Trinidad and Tobago it is served or sold at most social gatherings such as parties, all inclusive fetes and sporting competitions. Souse is also popularly served with pudding.
Notes and references
Full article ▸