Pig’s Head Torchon: Done

Pig’s head boiled for 3 1/2 hours: check. Meat and fat separated: check. Said meat and fat rolled into torchon: check. One apprehensive cook: check.

Looking at the photo of the deep fried, crispy, torchon slices in Chang’s book is looking at the loveliest photo of two perfectly cooked croquettes. I love croquettes. I love their crispy, crunchy exteriors giving way to soft, melty potato-meat insides. Based on the photo alone, I thought the pig’s head torchon would be like a uber-croquette, no filler potato, just all crispy outsides and melty, fatty, meaty insides.

I thought wrong. It wasn’t the torchon’s fault, the recipe, or my execution. It was my cold: I couldn’t smell, I couldn’t taste, I couldn’t even properly swallow without feeling like I was suffocating a little. Sadly, the pig’s head was anti-climatic.

At least I know the recipe works, and it works well. Initially, when I rolled up the torchon, the feeling of the fat and meat was so loose I was afraid it wouldn’t hold together properly, but after a couple of hours in the fridge, the log had firmed up nicely.

It’s really amazing how the collagen inside the head held everything together. The log was super solid, like headcheese. Slicing through it, you get a good look at the distribution of meat and fat. There’s a lot of fat in the torchon, I’d say about a 50/50 ratio. This torchon is not for the faint of heart: if the raw pig’s head doesn’t freak you out, the deep-fried super-fatty meat puck will.

Once the torchon was sliced up, it was time to flour, egg, and panko the slices before deep-frying. The the pucks are crisped up to an appetizing golden brown, then served with butter lettuce and cherries. Butter lettuce I can find any time of the year, but it’s not cherry season, so I substituted a few dried blueberries. I could have substituted dried cherries, but as a contagious sick person, I didn’t want to go to the grocery store (even if it’s only 2 blocks away!).

The torchon’s also served with a spicy Japanese yellow mustard, Kewpie mayonnaise and rice vinegar sauce. It’s pretty good, from what I could taste of it. I will warn you, it’s spicy, it cleared my sinuses for a second.

After all that and I couldn’t taste a thing. The golden-brown pucks of meaty goodness looked delicious, and I tried to taste them, I did, but my cold rendered my sense of smell and taste buds useless.

Mike really enjoyed the torchon. He said they tasted like crispy pucks of deep fried pulled pork interspersed with delicious melty fat globs. I guess I’m going to have to take his word for it.

17 Comments add yours

  1. I hope you’ll make them again and revise this post with a tasting verdict by the cook! Great pictures. Looks delicious.

    Thanks! I did manage to freeze a few pucks, so I will be trying it when I’m better.

    steph on April 26th, 2010 at 9:16 am
    Married2Food on April 25, 2010 at 12:26 pm
  2. Did you fry them all, or save part of the torchon to try when you are better?

    I bet this was pork heaven.

    I wonder if this type of torchon can’t be replicated with fresh smoked ham hock, pork belly for the skin, and pork shoulder. Although that is a lot of meat, all of it is easier to get and they should all fit into a pot better.

    I froze some to save it so I’ll be trying it when I’m better.

    I think a torchon of other parks of the pork would taste just as good!

    steph on April 26th, 2010 at 9:17 am
  3. A shame you couldn’t taste it – I had this at Momofuku Ssam Bar a couple of weeks ago and it was outstanding! They served it with a pear mostarda and a watercress salad with a very tart vinaigrette.

    One day I’ll taste it at Ssäm Bar, that way I won’t have to get a pig’s head again!

    steph on April 26th, 2010 at 9:21 am
  4. You are so brave buying a head and all . . . we tried something similar at The French Laundry. At the time I had never heard of the technique, so I thought it was a crazy amount of work for such little deep fried pucks, but I guess this is sort of a known technique!

    It is a lot of work, but I guess it’s worth it for the taste, as least that’s what my husband tells me!

    I wasn’t brave by the way, I just knew I had to get it over with!

    steph on April 27th, 2010 at 12:33 pm
  5. Well done! It looks perfect!


    steph on April 28th, 2010 at 12:39 pm
  6. You are so adventurous and obviously not afraid to cook up something tasty with any part of the pig.

    Oh, I was afraid!

    steph on April 28th, 2010 at 12:40 pm
  7. PS- I hope you feel better soon!

  8. It looks gorgeous, and I’m sure tasted gorgeous. Well done. Do you think you’d try it again one day when you’re nowhere near a cold and can appreciate it? I think you should!

    I saved a couple of pucks, so someday, I’ll pull them out and give them a deep-fry and taste.

    steph on May 3rd, 2010 at 11:40 am
  9. I worked at the breslin as a kitchen intern for about 6 months. although we did not have pigs head torchon’s we did make deep fried head cheese with sauce gribiche (mayo and mustard based sauce). I can imagine that the taste would be similar.

    BTW, your torchon looks incredible. What could be better then pigs head in tube form that is deep fried and served with a fat based sauce?

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