a half pig’s head (3-4 kg), scrubbed clean even the teeth
2 teaspoons salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground black pepper, more to taste or 6 pepper corns
6 medium onions, trimmed and peeled
2 heads garlic, divided into cloves with peel
large bouquet 6 parsley sprig
6 thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
2 cups Chardonnay or medium dry white wine
½ cup brandy
2-3 liter water, more if needed
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
Heat oven to 150°C. Rinse pig’s head and thoroughly dry it with paper towel. Set it, cut side down, in a roasting pan. Rub a teaspoon of the salt into skin. Tuck shallots, garlic, and bouquet parsley around head and sprinkle with pepper and remaining salt. Pour over wine, brandy and water, adding enough water to half cover head – the cheek should remain above water so it steams. Wrap a piece of foil tightly around the ear. Cover pan with foil.
Bring the liquid to a boil on the stove top, then transfer pan to the oven. Slow roast pig’s head in the oven until it is partially cooked, about 2 hours. Remove foil, leaving ear covered. Continue roasting until most of water has evaporated, pig skin is a deep mahogany color, and meat is almost falling from bones when poked with a fork, about 4 hours longer. If ear is still soft, discard the foil 20 minutes before the end of cooking.
Let pig’s head rest, loosely covered with foil, at least 15 minutes before serving. While waiting, strain juices into a small saucepan, discarding bouquet parsley and vegetables. If necessary boil juices on top of the stove to a concentrated gravy. Skim fat and whisk in Dijon mustard. Taste gravy for seasoning.
Rest the pig’s head on a bed of greens on a warm platter. To serve, cut off the ear and set it aside. With the help of a sharp knife and a large spoon, lift off the crisp skin in one piece. Cut the skin, including the ear, into approachable pieces using a heavy knife or cleaver. Scoop meat off the bones with the spoon.
Recipe: Miemsie De Klerk