Although this recipe is not for the squeamish, it is absolutely delicious and you can prepare it well in advance to avoid the Christmas/new year rush. Rolled pig’s head is a Roux family favourite and excellent value for money. Do ask your butcher in advance to put a pig’s head aside for you as they tend to discard. This is a truly wholesome French classic dish that will surprise your guests for sure.

Rolled pig’s head

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pig’s head
  • 1 butternut squash
  • 1 bunch of kale
  • ½ Tbsp. of Dijon mustard
  • ½ a sliced white onion
  • 4 Tbsp. of olive oil
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 Tbsp. of butter

Bouillon to cook the head:

  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion roughly chopped
  • 1 branch of celery roughly chopped
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • Salt, pepper and four spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and Jamaican pepper)
  • Preheat your oven at 180 degrees

Method

  1. Usually your butcher would have removed all excess hair on the pig’s head; however if any is left use a blow torch to remove. Using a sharp knife, cut all the way down the middle of the head to the snout and follow the bone structure with your knife. You should end up with a rectangular shape piece of meat with no holes in.
  2. Season the meat with a pinch of salt, pepper and four spices before rolling the pig’s head tightly, making sure the ears and snout are folded inside. Tie strings all around the rolled head to keep in place (as you would with a roast).
  3. Place the head in a large casserole dish with all the other ingredients and cover with water. Cook in simmering water for about 4 hours; if necessary top up with water during the cooking process as the head must always be covered.
  4. Once tender and cooked throughout (easily pierced with a skewer) remove the head and leave in the fridge overnight.
  5. Wash and peel the butternut squash before cutting into bitesize chunks. Roast one half of the chunks in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil and sprig of thyme for approximately 25 minutes.
  6. Pan sear the rest of the butternut chunks with a tbsp. of butter and the sliced onion. Add a cup of water to the pan and cook until completely softened.
  7. Whilst still hot, blend all the ingredients together to obtain a puree, adding the Dijon mustard, 3 tbsp. of olive oil and seasoning to taste.
  8. Blanch the kale for 3 minutes in salted water. Strain and leave to dry before cutting them and roasting them in a heated pan with a tbsp. of olive oil for a couple of minutes until crispy.
  9. At the last minute, cut thick slices of the pig’s head and pan sear with a drizzle of olive oil until caramelized and beautifully crispy.

A good quality Beaujolais will do wonders with this French classic. Marcel Lapierre’s Morgon 2014 is made ‘naturally’ with no added sulphur; delivering lovely purity with delicate floral notes. A young red wine which is extremely good value for money.

For a lighter option, post-Christmas celebration; a Tavel La Dame Rousse, Domaine de la Mordorée 2013 is a wonderfully fruity rosé that will certainly suit this dish. A vibrant young wine from the southern Rhône region, precise and rounded enough to accompany the bold tasting pig’s head.

If you really want to impress your guest with this recipe, why not pair it with a robust Côte-Rôtie 2010 Les Bécasses from Michel Chapoutier. A powerful red wine with intense olive and peppercorn aromas; perfect for this full flavoured dish. A personal favourite of mine from the Rhône region.

Wines to drink with Rolled Pig’s Head by Michel Roux Jr.

Marcel Lapierre, Morgon, 2014 – An amazing quality Beaujolais, this red is fresh and fruity with notes of stone fruits like cherry. There is a slight savouriness to the wine which complements the sweetness of the butternut squash.
RRP: £19 Roberson Wine

Tavel Rosé, La Dame Rousse, Domaine de la Mordorée, 2013 – Brimming with tangy red fruit flavours, there are sweet notes of aniseed that works beautifully on the palate together with the savouriness of the pig’s head.
RRP: £16.65 Berry Bros and Rudd

Côte-Rôtie, Les Bécasses, Maison Chapoutier, 2010 – This deep red has even deeper flavours. On the nose it is spicy and herbaceous with hints of rosemary and violet, brought together by hints of oak on the palate which works so nicely with the earthy flavours of the squash and meatiness of the pig’s head.
RRP: £39.95 Berry Bros and Rudd