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.