Braised ballottine of pig’s head

Braised ballottine of pig’s head

By
From
Becasse
Serves
20
Photographer
Steve Brown

This recipe is based upon a traditional English dish called bath chaps – it is just a little more complex and refined. When made properly the end result is a wonderful mosaic of different colours, textures and flavours from the component parts.

Check the pig’s head carefully to make sure it is blemish-free and that none of the skin is torn or missing. The most challenging part of the dish is boning the pig’s head – your butcher will probably do it for you, but really all you need is a very sharp knife, a steady hand and some confidence.

The boned head is braised in a mixture of stock and rendered duck fat – almost like a confit. It’s a fabulous way of cooking as the fat floats on top of the flavoursome stock and you end up with the best of both worlds: a rich, tasty braise with the soft melting texture of a confit. To serve, cut into slices and sauté in a little butter and oil until golden-brown.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 large pig’s head, ears and snout intact
150g Aromatic confit salt
1 head garlic, cloves separated
6 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 litres Brown pork stock
2 litres Rendered duck fat

Method

  1. To bone the pig’s head, sit it on a sturdy chopping board, so that it is facing you. Start by removing the ears and tongue and set them aside. You are aiming to remove all the meat from the cheeks, snout, and skull with the skin. Make an incision in the centre of the crown of the pig and run your knife down to the tip of the snout. Work your knife underneath the skin and work your way down the right-hand side of the pig’s skull, carefully slicing the skin away from the skull. Manoeuvre carefully around the eye sockets, temple and snout, then run your knife along the jaw line and under the chin to the neck.
  2. Repeat this process on the left-hand side. At the end of the boning process, you should be left with a large butterfly-shaped sheet of skin, with fat and meat attached. Sprinkle on the aromatic salt, then cover tightly and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about 6 hours.
  3. Preheat your oven to 110°C. Remove the pig’s head from the fridge, rinse off the salt and pat dry. Put it into a large braising pan with the reserved tongue and ears. Roughly crush the garlic cloves and add them to the pan with the herbs.
  4. In another saucepan heat the stock and duck fat until just below a simmer, around 80°C. Pour onto the pig’s head and cover with a piece of greaseproof paper cut to the size of the pan. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours, checking every 30 minutes to make sure the liquid is not boiling. When cooked the meat should be very tender.
  5. Remove from the oven and drain the boned head, tongue and ears on a cooling rack. When cool enough to handle, place the head on your work surface and shape into a neat rectangle. Arrange the tongue and ears down the middle of the head and roll up very tightly in cling film. Secure well and hang in the refrigerator for a few hours to set firm. It will keep for up to 1 week.

Note:

  • Cut the ballottine straight from the refrigerator and still wrapped in cling film. Keep the cling film on while you fry the medallions to help them keep their shape – they are very delicate and easily disintegrate during the cooking process.
Tags:
restaurant
Becasse
Justin
North
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