There are just so many imaginative ways to deal with a pig’s head

Braised, stuffed, slow roasted … it’s something the English upper classes have long appreciated

Boning a pig’s head isn’t easy. My friend, the food historian Dr Annie Gray, tried it once. It took her and a friend five hours. She was following the 1846 instructions of Charles Elmé Francatelli, once chef to Queen Victoria, who was an old hand at the whole pig boning business. The key is to get a head severed at the second vertebrae, so that when you have tunnel-boned the skull, working the blade carefully about the jaw and skull, and then refilled it with the forcemeat, you have a flap of skin to be re-stitched at the back.

Before you can do that, you have to take the pig’s head, the eyes stitched closed, and smear it with six pounds of salt, handfuls of saltpetre, sugar, cloves, mace, garlic, thyme, marjoram and basil. It then needs to be submerged in a quart of port for two weeks and turned every day.

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