Game of Thrones viewing party – Whole pig head cooked sous vide, then fried

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Yes, Game of Thrones is coming to a close. For the penultimate episode, I wanted to do something over-the-top. At first, I wanted to do a suckling pig and spit roast it over an open fire. However, my main source for quality meats, Saint Paul Meat Shop couldn’t get me one. But they could get me a whole pig head!

My first step was to “pull” Chris Consentino’s Offal Good off my Kindle library and read about how to cook a whole head. I used his recipes as a starting point to go my own way.

I knew that I wanted to serve it bossam style complete with lettuce wraps, kimchi, pickled onions, ssamjang, and other Korean pickles.  Since it is really fatty, it would need the vinegar from the kimchi and pickles to balance things out.

So my strategy would be to cook it fully sous vide and then finish it in a turkey deep fryer. While it didn’t go exactly to plan, it tasted awesome and my guests loved it!

Tasting and lessons learned

Well this was just fantastic! It was rich and savory and we attacked this thing ferociously. Frying it gave us a nice crunchy exterior with a super tender interior. The pickles and kimchi were a MUST! They have acid to balance the super fatty meat. Together, the pairing is unbelievably tasty.

Salt and curing

I liked that the cure gave it a nice pink color, but don’t follow the dosing rate on the Morton’s bag. It would be way too salty because the ratio assumes that there is no bone. Since the head is mostly skull and jawbone, it would be inedibly salty. 0.1-0.2 oz per lb of pigs head is about right.

Originally, I did the full 0.5 oz per lb because I didn’t account for the head. However, my seals failed on my sous vide bag because I used a machine I hadn’t tested yet and 190f is hot for a sous vide bath. I even double-sealed the bags. Because the seals failed, it allowed water into the bags. This ended up saving my recipe because it diluted the cure to a more manageable level. I got lucky!

We want a pig head skin on!

I wish that my pig head came with the skin and ears on. I was expecting it to and was unpleasantly surprised when it came without the skin and ears. Pork skin is so good and I really wanted that crispy golden covering. Also one of the head halves broke apart in the fryer without the skin-on and I fished the meat out with a spider skimmer. Still tasted great, but wasn’t the presentation I wanted.

Expandable sous vide bags?

This was also my first time working with the expandable sous vide bags from Foodsaver. I absolutely loved them! I’ve struggled to get Prime rib roast into bags before and this is thousand times easier! I’ll always use these for big things going forward.

Offal and courage

Lastly, I want to talk about courage. I was a little intimidated about cooking a whole pigs head at first. But I approached it as confidently as I could and I’m happy with how things turned out! Offal is a little scary, but when treated right, it can be delicious. I have to thank Chris Consentino’s Offal Good again. It breaks things down and demystifies the more esoteric cuts like sweetbreads.

Patrick Jaszewski

Culinary Tyrannosaurus, passport stamp collector, home cook, pilot, strength enthusiast, bilingual, coffee roaster, former homebrewer. Committed to DIY ethic. Minnesota native transplanted in Pennsylvania. Thunderbird MBA Alumni and Golden Gopher. Undyingly positive and open minded. Drives Jill crazy by questioning everything.

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