In my travels about Brant I meet folks from all walks of life and I enjoy the curious nature people have about trying food, learning about food and asking questions about food. Recently one of my food tour guests asked me a great question as we were discussing cheese. Is Headcheese really cheese?
This is a great question, I knew the answer but I wanted to dig a little deeper to find out if the stories of Headcheese were true and why this non cheese is called a cheese. Back in the day I had to go to the library and look in the encyclopedia, but now Wikipedia is my go to.
Head cheese is a cold cut that originated in Europe. It is not a dairy cheese, but a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of a calf of pig and is often set in aspic. Head cheese may be flavoured with onion, black pepper, allspice, bay leaf, salt and vinegar. It is typically eaten cold or at room temperature and served as a slice or in cubes with crackers, breads, pickles and mustard. Thus why it’s called cheese.
The taste is much like a quality bologna with spice yet a texture of gelatin that offers your palate a rare experience of smooth and soft sponge chunky in the same bite. If you enjoy texture, are not a vegetarian and want to try something new on your next charcuterie board, ask for a slice of the head cheese and decide for yourself. It has been around for hundreds of years, so clearly there is something to this unique combination of meats, spices and gelatin.
Headcheese, just like it sounds and it’s dairy free.