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"Headless" Head Cheese

A tasty version of the classic head cheese without the head
Prep Time3 d
Cook Time5 hrs
resting time1 d


For the Stock

  • 8 cups water enough to cover the meat
  • 1 medium onion rough chopped
  • 1 medium tomato rough chopped
  • 3 sticks celery rough chopped
  • 1 large carrot rough chopped
  • 1 each garlic bulb smashed
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley rough chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme rough chopped
  • 1 tbsp peppercorn coarsely ground
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 10 tsp non flavored gelatin (4 packs)
  • salt to taste
  • 8 large egg whites (optional if you want to clarify this stock)

Optional Ingredient

  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar added to the meat just before place them in a placing it in the mold


Prepare the meat

  • Begin by combining all of your seasonings/spices into a cup and mixing well. Set to the side
  • Cut your pork belly and pork shoulder into 1 inch cubes.
  • Add all of the spices/cure to the meat and mix well. Place in a vacuum bag and remove all the air. You can also use a zip lock bag. Place into your refrigerator for 3 days, turning and massaging the bag daily.

Prepare the stock

  • Rough chop all of your vegetables and place them in a cheese cloth bundle along with the pepper corns.
  • In a stock pot add what the recipe calls for in cold water. Next add the gelatin and stir to combine. Once dissolved add your bag of vegetables, the cured pork shoulder cubes, and the cured pork belly cubes. Finally add the lemon juice.
  • Turn the fire on a medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer.
  • Cover and simmer for 4-5 hours or until the meat is fall apart tender.
  • Once the meat has finished cooking remove the bag of vegetables and strain the meat through a sieve reserving the stock. Place your meat to the side to cool

Clarifying the stock

  • Measure out how much stock you plan on clarifying. You will be adding 1 egg white for every quart of stock you want to clarify. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl and set to the side.
  • Remove all of your stock vegetables from the bag and finely chop them up. Add these vegetables to your egg white mixture and mix well to combine
  • If your stock is hot you'll want to temper the egg mixture by adding a cup of hot stock to the egg mixture and gently mix it in. Once your egg mixture is tempered you can add it to your stock pot and turn the heat on a medium low. Stirring occasionally.
  • After 15 minutes you'll notice a layer or raft of vegetables a start to float to the top and as soon as you see that starting to form stop mixing. This will begin the process of filtering your stock.
  • After your raft has fully developed gently open a hole in the center with a ladle large enough to dip your ladle in. As you continue to gently simmer you'll notice that your stock will start to become crystal clear. At this point slowly ladle out the clear stock and run it through several layers of cheese cloth. Once all of the stock has been removed taste and adjust for seasonings.
  • To test and see if your stock has enough gelatin place a few tablespoons into a small ramekin and refrigerate for 20-30 minutes. If it sets up the way you like it you are good to go. If it's pretty soft you can add more gelatin according to the package instructions. Re-test till you get the consistency you want.

Assemble the "Headless" head Cheese

  • I like to add a little vinegar to my meat before molding it up as this cuts through the rich fatty pork. You can also season to taste. A little chopped fresh parsley and chili flakes will give your head cheese a nice flavor and color. Be gentle when mixing as your meat will be very tender..
  • Place a layer of clarified stock in your mold. Let it set up in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Add a layer of meat loosely the cover with stock. Repeat this process till your mold is completely full.
  • Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy the next day over crackers, with grits, on a pizza, as an open face sandwich...... You get the idea


  • This recipe is very customizable. If you don't have any back fat then just add pork meat in it's place. You can also substitute the head meat for pork belly.
  • If you want to omit the pig foot simply add that amount in pork meat. Pork shoulder works well.
  • If you don't plan on curing the meat you can omit the cure and season how ever you like.
  • If you don't plan on clarifying the stock you can omit that step and just add your cooled broth to the meat once it's been molded.