Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Tête De Veau

I never thought I'd eat something called calf's head, or head cheese as it's also known. But once I understood what it was, I was no longer squeamish about it and have enjoyed it many times.

A slice of tête de veau persillée.

At the butcher shop on Saturday, I asked for a slice of what I thought was jambon persillé. It's a terrine of large chunks of cooked ham in a gelatin, with a layer of chopped parsley in gelatin on top. It's a favorite of mine.

But the butcher corrected me. He said what I was pointing at was not jambon persillée, but tête de veau persillée. He said it was much better than what I had asked for, and that he made it using only jowls and tongue. None of the other bits that are commonly found in fromage de tête.

It was gorgeous, so I just had to buy a small slice! And it was very good. We at two thirds of it as an appetizer on Sunday. I'm going back for more someday soon!


  1. One of the things I love and try avoiding these days. ;)

  2. Ah, the days when people ate everything but the moo...

    There's an English product called "brawn", which sounds much nicer than "head cheese" but was I think made of brains: I think BSE has killed the market for it. But cheeks and tongue are perfectly respectable (and not too fattening in small quantities, surely, Claude?)

  3. Autolycus - brawn and fromage de tête are pretty much the same. Brawn is usually pig bits though, rather than veal.

  4. claude, just a little every now and then might be ok?

    autolycus, no brains in this stuff - I guess that makes it a no-brainer!

    s&s, I've never heard of brawn. Do you two ever eat it?

  5. Walt - occasionally. Unless you make it yourself, it's pretty hard to come by. I do have a butcher near where I work that I could buy a pig's head from in London, but getting it home on the underground might be an interesting experience. My mother used to make it when we were little, because we lived on a farm and killed our own beasts, so as Autolycus says, we ate everything but the moo, oink, baa, cackle...As with fromage de tête, brawn doesn't include the brains, but is mostly cheek and tongue and other little meaty bits. Brains are too delicate for anything but crumbing and frying within 24 hours of the beast being killed. They go off really quickly - even quicker than other offal.

  6. What do you eat it on or with? Do you spread it? Fork it? Or nibble it?

    And more importantly, how does it smell?

  7. susan, yes, I imagine that brains go off pretty quickly...

    jayne, I ate it with a fresh crusty french bread by just slicing off a hunk and eating them together. It's eaten cold, or room temperature, and it just smells like fresh cold cuts.

  8. eliz david (in A Book of Mediterranean Food) has an intriguing recipe for jambon persille which i've always wanted to try. she says it's the trad easter dish of burgundy. i'm sure it could be adapted for tete de veau:
    cook blanched and chunked meats in a broth of 1 lb veal knuckle, cut in pieces; 2 calfs' feet, boned; bouquet garni incl chervil and tarragon; 10 grains white pepper in a muslin bag; salt; covered with white burgundy.
    boil gently, skim thoroly. when meat is very cooked mash it a little with a fork, and turn it into a large bowl, and press it down. strain liquid and add a little tarragon vinegar. when the liquid has started to jelly, stir in 2 TBS chopped parsley. pour this jelly over the meat, and keep in a cold place until the next day.

    i think this would work with any meat if you skimmed and degreased the jelly perfectly.


    your rhubarb is also killing me.

  9. i perceived the blanching -- she says "half cook it" -- helps with the clarity and greaselessness of the final product.

  10. I must admit I've never eaten this, except perhaps the American version as a child in the USA. But yours looks pretty good.

    I have eaten pied de porc, which by the way looks nothing like a foot or hoof or whatever pigs have...the version I ate was more like a pâté in a casing.


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