#Homemade: sopressata (Italian style head cheese)

Last week I went for a cooking class in which we butchered a pig. I’ll admit, it was a bit graphic, but I am a firm believer in knowing how that pork chop or that slice of bacon got on your plate. It is a bit about knowledge and a bit about respect and realizing that if you are only eating chops and loin there is a good 3/4 of the pig that goes to waste. And that should never happen.

In the spirit of using all parts of the pig, I entered the draw for the pig head (well half a pig head. And I won it! I was also given some pork belly, a pork cheek and pork chops. So today I’ll present you the recipe of sopressata (Italian style head cheese) and next Sunday I will give you cooked pork belly. Both are to be cooked, refrigerated and then thinly sliced using a meat slicer if at all possible. and would be great on a charcuterie plate.




  • 1/2 a pork head
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 handful of black pepper
  • 2 handful of salt
  • 2 cloves
  • nutmeg
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/3 cup red wine


  1. Place the head in a large pot and cover it with water. Add the bay leaves, half the pepper, half the salt 2 cloves and a pinch of nutmeg. Turn on the heat and let it simmer for 3 to 4 hours.
  2. During the last hour of cooking, place the smashed garlic to macerate in the wine with a pinch of nutmeg.
  3. When the meat is very tender, fish the head out of the water and take it apart. Get all the meaty bits in bowl, and add as much of the fat as you like. I kept mine very lean, but a bit more fat would have not been bad.
  4. Mix the meat with the rest of the salt, the pepper and the wine in which you macerated the garlic (not the garlic). Press the meat into a cheese cloth and hang over a bowl so that it looses liquids.
  5. After 24 hours wrap in plastic and place in the fridge.
  6. When you want to eat it, slice it thinly.

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8 Responses to #Homemade: sopressata (Italian style head cheese)

  1. What a great experience! I think it’s great to know what you are using for cooking. I know how to cook fish from scratch (or how do you call it in English?) but not animal meat. I’d love to try this!

  2. Dara says:

    Wow. I am so impressed with your knowledge. I agree, we need to respect the animals and the processes that feed us and I envy your strong stomach to take this course. Well done.

  3. Ramona says:

    This looks so inviting and delicious!! Perfect for entertaining. 🙂

  4. Manu says:

    WOW! I had no idea it was so easy!!! I will have to try it! My dad loves to eat the pig’s head… he cooks it and then puts it in jelly with giardiniera and other things! 🙂 I agree… no pork to should go to waste!

  5. alida says:

    You are learning great skills on this course. You are right in not waisting anything. All the parts of the pigs are edible and with a bit of knowledge we can create great meals. Well done!

  6. wow Can’t imagine making this myself. It looks great!

  7. That actually doesn’t look bad. I wouldn’t have guessed that that’s what it looks like, but I suppose bologna isn’t much different here. How did it taste?

    • PolaM says:

      It tastes pretty similar to the less cured/spiced versions of pastrami. Everyone that tasted it found it pretty delicious and it does look like any other ham so it doesn’t make people squimish.

      I’m not sure how bologna is made over here and I have to confess I don’t remember eating it, so cannot comment how close is to that. Compared to Italian Mortadella (which is the “original” bologna) it is less sweet and more firm.

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