Pork Hock Head Cheese
Over the holidays I always look forward to eating a pork dish that is certainly an acquired taste. As a second generation Ukrainian I grew up eating head cheese at Christmas. Head Cheese is not a cheese.
The version I grew up with I think it can be best described as gelatinous meat – made from boiling pork hocks for a very long time.
While I’ve seen it being made a hundred times, I’ve never made it on my own, but in anticipation of Ukrainian Christmas, I decided to give it a try. I went to the Strathcona Farmer’s Market on Saturday to visit Alan at Irving Farms to pick up some fresh pork hocks.
Sharman’s Head Cheese
4 pork hocks
2 bay leaves
1 Onion – cut into large slices
2 tbsp picking spices (best tied up in a cheese cloth)
2 tsp salt
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
½ cup vinegar
2 gelatin leaves
¼ cup sugar
- Cover hocks with water in a large pot. Add bay leaves, onion, salt, and pickling spices.
- Bring to boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cook until tender (3-5 hours) until the meat flakes easily with fork. Cool and save liquid.
- When meat is cool, remove bone and fat and chop up meat. I grew up eating it with the skin on, so I save that and chop it up (but this is totally optional)
- Place gelatin leaves in cold water for ten minutes.
- Mix together 4 cups of broth, vinegar, sugar, garlic and meat. Simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Mix in gelatin. Stir, and pour mixture in a pan (I use loaf pans).
- Cool and refrigerate until firm. Scrape off any fat from the surface. Slice and enjoy!