birch and grasses alone on the snow, grey sky indistinguishable. the flat world falls into the edge of time, lifeless, dull wedge of horizon and soundless ...
29 October 2009
A savory Cornish-style pasty turns a bleak, ill-humored day and resolves its blurred memories of unwellness into a well-fed, content family, despite the grey-edged rain upon rain.
I've got half a pan of headcheese and I want to eat it with everything, so I made a rich crust with a stick of butter and a big spoonful of rendered duck fat. No need for salt because this duck fat was already used to make confit. I divided the dough into five discs of unequal sizes and chilled it while I prepared the filling.
I also had a small plastic bag with kidneys and hearts that I wanted to use, so I cut them up and sauteed them with an onion and a little more duck fat. A few tablespoons of brandy started sizzling and I scraped up the little meaty bits on the pan. I still have a lot of thick, gelatinous stock from the headcheese, so I added a few hunks to the kidneys and let it cook down.
After peeling and slicing a few potatoes and an onion (we didn't have any turnips, another common ingredient,) the pasties were ready to be filled. I rolled the dough into 5" - 8" circles, and put in a bit of 'taters and onions, as well as a crumbled slice of headcheese. My wife and I got the kidneys and hearts, too, and the pasties were folded over and sealed, the once-open edge rounded up to keep any liquid from escaping. Head cheese is great for making pasties because of the gelatin that softens into a rich, flavorful broth in the oven. Halfway through the hour-long cooking, I used a funnel to pour a bit more of the rich stock into each half-moon pasty, sealed all around its edges.
A rich, flaky crust with a piping hot interior was the result, and everyone loved the novelty and the taste. Diced and shredded pork - and that's essentially what headcheese is - is a fantastic filling for a pasty like this. And the gravy that keeps everything moist and enriches the crust? I'll be making this again soon.