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"As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy, and to make plans."--Ernest Hemingway

Headcheese (or Koseliena) Recipe

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This recipe for Headcheese (or Koseliena), by , is from The MacNeil Family Cookbook Project, one of the cookbooks created at We'll help you start your own personal cookbook! It's easy and fun. Click here to start your own cookbook!

June MacNeil


Choosing the Meat Cut
Modern day recipes use a simpler, more common pork cut such as pork hocks or pork shoulder. Look for a pork cut that has a good proportion of lean meat, with some bone and pork skin, to obtain flavours from each of these elements.
Fresh pork hocks are a good choice, but other cuts such as fresh pork shoulder (with skin attached) may be used; ensure any excess fat is trimmed and discarded.

Curing the Meat
Cure Ingredients:
12 lbs (or 5.5 kgs) of fresh pork shoulder with skin attached or fresh pork hocks.
1.5 gallons (6.8 litres) of hot water
3 cups coarse pickling salt
3 cups pickling salt
2 tablespoons pickling salt
2 tablespoons dextrose or granulated sugar
4 tablespoons pickling spices
2 tablespoons Saltpetre (Potassium Nitrate) to retain the meat's red colour

Preparing the meat and assembly following curing.
Ingredients for this stage:
cup powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons ground white peppers
1 teaspoon ground dried ginger
teaspoon allspice
1teaspoon caraway seeds
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon marjoram
1 tablespoon ground cloves

Curing the Meat:
1. In a large stainless steel pot or food grade plastic bucket, combine the hot water, pickling salt, dextrose, pickling spices, and Saltpetre. Cool to room temperature.
2. Cut the meat into 1 inch thick pieces or larger, if preferred. As much as possible, try to have similar size pieces to ensure even curing.
3. Cover the pot or bucket and refrigerate for a minimum of 7 days.

Preparing the Meat and Assembly
1. Grease 2- 5 x 8 glass or foil loaf pans, or molding dish of choice.
1. Remove the meat from the curing liquid, rinse and place in large pot. Add enough fresh water to cover the meat. Cover and bring to boil; cook a moderate boil for 1 to 2 hours. Remove meat to large bowl and cool to room temperature; reserve the cooking liquid.
2. Skim the surface of the reserved cooking liquid and remove floating fat. Avoid including fat in the final product.
3. Using a meat grinder, pass the pork skin though the grinder.
4. Add gelatine to reserved cooking liquid and heat to slow boil, stirring constantly to dissolve the gelatin. Remove from heat and set aside.
5. Discard the bones and cut the meat into to 1 inch square pieces.
6. Combine the remaining ingredients and add to the meat mixture; stir thoroughly.
7. Spoon mixture into prepared 5 x 8 loaf pans and refrigerate overnight to harden.
8. When ready to serve, remove the Koseliena from the pans; slice and serve.
9. Serve with a sprinkle of vinegar, if desired.

Note: All of the liquid from boiling the meat can be added to the meat mixture to increase the quantity. It will add an additional layer of jelly to the surface of the meat.

Number Of Servings:
Number Of Servings:
Preparation Time:
Preparation Time:
2 weeks
Personal Notes:
Personal Notes:
Brendon introduced me to Headcheese at his family home. I like the unusual texture of the jellied meat and after we were married and moved into our own home, I was open to helping him prepare it. I remember the first time he served it to Papa and Grandma Mulley during one of their visits the valley. They had only tried a somewhat bland grocery store version and really enjoyed it.

Headcheese (or "Koseliena" in Lithuanian) is a cold cut or jelly meat that originated in Europe. Many older recipes made use of the less meaty parts of the pig, such as the flesh of the head with brain, eyes, and ears removed. Th tongue, feet and heart were also often used. Although originally viewed as a peasant food, Headcheese became elevated to a prized favourite ethnic dish with the addition of exotic spice blends. It is often served on special holiday celebration dinners.

Making Headcheese is a two step process that takes place over a couple of weeks:
1. Salting and curing the meat for at least a week.
2. Following the curing, the next steps are cooking, preparing the meat, and assembling the Headcheese.




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