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It might surprise some of you to find out that I twice used to be vegetarian, because I thought it was the path to health, and because I was concerned about animal welfare. Both times lead to declined health. So "going Paleo" has had a hugely positive impact on my health. However, I've had to adjust my thinking to include more animal proteins in my diet and part of the mental shift I had to make was about the killing of animals for food.
I've not always been averse to eating animals, I grew up in Colorado after all, and we often lived off of venison that was harvested each fall. So I know that there is a means to honor the animals that are used for food. I decided that I would adopt a similar mindset when re-introducing meat to the household. We came across the concept of Nose-To-Tail eating early in our paleo adventures and the concept resonated with us on a spiritual level - to always ensure that the animals were raised with the best life possible and that nothing would go to waste.
Enter a book called Beyond Bacon, Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog by Matthew McCarry and Stacey Toth. This book described the process from start to finish on how to find, purchase and process a whole animal. So, we took the idea to heart and last year we purchased a whole hog from a local farmer, had it processed and located a chest freezer to store the various cuts we got. Now, don't think we got 165 lbs of bacon, because we didn't - we got it all: organs, chops, bacon, trotters, sausage - all of it.
So, its been a year and we have been able to honor that hog with friends and family over many yummy meals. We are so grateful. But now we need some freezer space (for a different bulk purchase) and Im facing the parts that I have been to scared to deal with. Well one, part actually: the head. I mean what do you do with a head!?! Of course Beyond Bacon has the answer and a simple recipe for head cheese. But I still had doubts, I was never raised with the stuff (liver is a different story) so I was squeamish. I didn't know how it would be to handle the part I could most recognize, nor what it would smell or taste like.
Phone a friend! When in doubt, you can always phone a friend right? I called my friend Julie from Nourish Balance Thrive who regularly orders head cheese from US Wellness meats. At least she is familiar with it. She was game enough to be part of our kitchen adventure of making head cheese from our lovely hog from last year. So last Sunday, we did just that!
Stay tuned for Part 2 where we document our Sunday Kitchen Nose-to-Tail Adventure!