(If I recall correctly, Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall does something similar in the River Cottage cookbook from his TV show, although I don't think that he steeped it in brine for a full week.)
½ Pig's Head
Bunch of Herbs
Blade of Mace
1 teaspoonful of Peppercorns
Remove the brains, eyes, and bristles from the head and wash well in salt water. To make a brine, boil together:-
4 pints of Water ¼ lb Brown Sugar
1½ lbs Salt Small ½ oz Saltpetre
When the brine is quite cold put in the head and pork and leave for a week. Wash, place in cold water with the herbs, etc., and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for 2½-3 hours. Cut the meat into small pieces, and then continue stewing the bones until the stock has reduced itself to half the quantity. Put the meat into moulds, pour over the stock and leave to set.
Ingredients-To a pig's head weighing 6 lbs. allow 1 1/2 lb. lean beef, 2 tablespoonfuls of salt, 2 teaspoonfuls of pepper, a little cayenne, 6 pounded cloves. Mode-Cut off the cheeks and salt them, unless the head be small, when all may be used. After carefully cleaning the head, put it on in sufficient cold water to cover it, with the beef, and skim it just before it boils. A head weighing 6 lbs. will require boiling from 2 to 3 hours. When sufficiently boiled to come off the bones easily, put it into a hot pan, remove the bones, and chop the meat with a sharp knife before the fire, together with the beef. It is necessary to do this as quickly as possible to prevent the fat settling in it. Sprinkle in the seasoning, which should have been previously mixed. Stir it well and put it quickly into a brawn-tin if you have one; if not, a cake-tin or mould will answer the purpose, if the meat is well pressed with weights, which must not be removed for several hours. When quite cold, dip the tin into boiling water for a minute or two, and the preparation will turn out and be fit for use. Time-from 2 to 2 hours. Average cost, for a pig's head, 4 1/2 d. per lb. Seasonable from September to March.
Note-The liquor in which the head was boiled will make good pea soup, and the fat, if skimmed off and boiled in water, and afterwards poured into cold water, answers the purpose of lard.
From Mrs. Beeton's Every Day Cookery and Housekeeping Book (facsimile of the 1865 edition)
Did you take this up. I dug out the River Cottage cookbook and confirmed that he only suggests brining for up to 24 hours. He also reckons that "the natural gelatine in the the head should be enough to set the brawn in its own jelly, but an extra pig's trotter will make sure"
1 pigs head, quartered (brined for up to 24 hours)
1 or 2 pigs trotters
2 onions, peeled and quartered
a large bundle of fresh herbs - parsley, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram
a muslin bag 0f spices (1-2 teaspoons each of cloves, coriander and mixed peppercorns)
a handful of chopped parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the quartered head, trotters, onions, bundle of herbs and bag of spices in a large stockpot. Cover with water and bring slowly to a gentle simmer. For the first half an hour of cooking, skim off any bubbly scum that rises to the surface. Cook uncovered at a very gentle simmer for about 4 hours altogether, until all the meat is completely tender and coming away from the bones. Top up the pan occasionally as the water level drops (remove the ears after about 2 1/2 hours if you want to use them for Crispy Pig's Ears).
When cooked, lift out the meat and leave until cool enough to handle. Pick all the meat (plus the brains, if you haven't already removed them), skin and fat off the head bones; it should fall off quite easily. Remove any bristly hairs with tweezers. Carefully remove the tongue in one piece, peel off the skin, and set aside. Roughly chop all the bits of meat, including the fat and skin, and toss them together with the chopped parsley and the lemon juice. (Everything except the bone and bristles can go into a brawn, but to make it less fatty, just discard some of fatty pieces at this stage.) Season to taste salt and pepper.
Place a layer of this seasoned mixture dish at least 2 litres in capacity, or in 2 or ones. Place the boiled tongue on top and off with the remaining meat mixture.
Remove the herbs, onions and spices cooking liquor and strain it if cloudy. Boil unt by about two-thirds and then spoon a tablespoons of this gelatine-rich liquid over to help it set as it cools. Put a plate or board on top, weight it down and put in the refrigerator to set
Thank you Lang Rabbie, I am going to Borough Market for my pigs head - my colleagues was in stitches when she realised I really wanted one....then she realised how big it would be to carry on the D.L.R....
When I read your latest recipe I was virtually drooling!
Good luck with your brawn making Jan. My Father used to make it, sadly he's no longer around to tell us his recipe. Good luck also on the DLR, I alarmed several passengers on there a few years back when bringing live crabs home from Billingsgate in carrier bags, although not as much alarm as the time I bought half a pig at Smithfield, and then brought it back to Tower Hill (during the morning rush hour) on the tube - everybody got off at Barbican, and then got on the next carriage. Still, me and the pig got a seat.