Best Kitchen Basics
Petrina Tinslay

One man’s lunch is another man’s, ‘Oh my god, that’s disgusting!’ Again it is a reflex stemming from the disassociation with the food’s provenance. Brawn is delicious and something I’ve eaten since I was a child, and actually started making from my first days in a commercial kitchen. I’ve always enjoyed its gelatinous savouriness and the pungent cut of curly parsley. As a side note, I would just like to say curly parsley rocks and should never be substituted by the flat-leaf variety. They are different things. Anyway, if you don’t like things with heads or eyes, it might just be time to get over it.


Quantity Ingredient
1 pig’s head, brain removed, cut in half
1 smoked ham hock
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 celery stalk
2 teaspoons white peppercorns
1 bottle dry riesling
1 large bunch curly parsley
100g capers, coarsely chopped
200g cornichons, coarsely chopped
50g sea salt


  1. Soak the pig’s head in cold water overnight with two handfuls of salt.
  2. Drain and place the pig’s head in a 5 litre stockpot with the ham hock. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.
  3. Drain, rinse the head and hock and return the meat to the cleaned pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery and peppercorns. Add the Riesling and then top up with enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface. Simmer gently for 3–3½ hours until the pig’s head is tender.
  4. Carefully remove the head and hock and leave them to cool.
  5. Pass the cooking liquor through a fine sieve into a clean pan over medium heat. Cook until the liquid is reduced by two-thirds, skimming any impurities that rise to the surface.
  6. Test the set of the liquor by refrigerating a little in a saucer until set – you are looking for a firm jelly. Reduce the liquor more as required. (See note.)
  7. Pick the meat and skin from the bones, including the tongue and fat from the head, and chop very coarsely. Discard the bones.
  8. Pick the parsley leaves and discard the stalks. Wash the parsley in several changes of cold water, drain well, then chop coarsely.
  9. In a large bowl, mix the meat, parsley, capers, cornichons and half the reduced liquor until well combined. Check for seasoning and add salt as required – it should be well seasoned.
  10. Use a large slotted spoon to fill a 2 litre terrine with the mixture, making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Add the remaining liquor to cover by 1 cm. Refrigerate overnight to set.


  • Depending on the shape of the terrine, you can serve the brawn straight from this with a large spoon or, if you have a rectangular mould you can warm the sides and tip the brawn onto a serving platter to be served sliced. (Just be aware that if you do this, the brawn needs a very firm set, so you can add leaf gelatine to firm it up.)
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