Last week we were up in Kentucky, and hanging out in a slaughter house when we noticed a big hog’s head sitting on the meat-cutter’s work bench. He offered it up to us and we immediately began plotting what we would do with this animal’s lovely noggin.
Four hours over a Hickory fire found the head to be sufficiently cooked but we needed stock so we wedged the head down into our big Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker and put it on low bars for three hours til the meat was like butter and the jaw had completely separated from the head.
Here’s our recipe for Hog Head Gumbo
1 each Head, Hog, dressed (eyes and brain removed)
1 bunch celery, chopped
2 each Onions, yellow, chopped
4 each Peppers, bell, chopped (if you can’t abide bell peppers use Poblano)
1 Head garlic, minced
6 Quarts, stock (see method below)
1 c. Bacon fat (or lard)
2 c. Flour
Salt and Pepper
* Smoke hog’s head over Hickory (or your favorite American hardwood) for four hours
* Submerge hog’s head in cold water in big kettle (or Kuhn Rikon stove-top pressure cooker)
* Cook til tender (We pressure cooked for three hours)
* Remove head
* Strain stock
* Cook Holy Trinity for one hour (We salt our trinity to hasten the cooking)
* Add stock
* Bring to boil
* Reduce to simmer
* Cook one hour
* Pull meat off head, roughly chop
* Make roux combining bacon fat and flour (Cook til the desired color is reached, we like a deep Walnut hue)
* Add roux to stock
* Add meat to stock
* Simmer one hour more
Voila! Your Hog’s Head Gumbo is ready. We garnish with minced green onions and serve over Louisiana rice. Put a big dollop of potato salad in your gumbo. No, really. That’s how they do it in LaFourche Parish, Louisiana and it is a fine way to eat gumbo.
* Under no circumstances use potato salad that has sweet (inedible) pickle relish, you will ruin your feast
* Hog’s heads are available at Cajun/Latino/Asian grocery stores
We make a wide variety of gumbos. When we staged a triumphant return to Austin earlier this year we made a 40 quart kettle of oyster, shrimp and Vaucresson sausage for our 20th Scrumptious Chef restaurant pop up. That soup was a beast and found us driving all over greater New Orleans to lay in the provisions.
We met Vance Vaucresson in the parking lot of a 9th Ward meat market to buy a mammoth packet of his world-beating sausage, and returned to the same store later that day to purchase a truckload of seafood from Harlon’s, the Kenner-based fish dealer who offers the best of local fisheries.
A 10 hour drive to Austin found us in our old production kitchen where we started the cook, two days early. It felt good knowing that we were preparing food that is exceptionally hard to find in Central Texas; yes there are ‘Cajun’ and ‘Creole’ restaurants in Travis County but we’ve never found one that could open in Acadiana and make good money.