Okay, traditionally brawn is made by boiling up the pigs head, which i can understand might put some people off tasting it. It wouldn't put me off eating it, but i do have a thing about using the heads, only from the point of view that the pigs are my mates and although i have learned to disassociate the individual who goes off with the meat that comes back, i couldn't lift the lid off a pot on the hob and see my friend looking back at me through the steam (i don't have a problem using the head of a pig i don't know, though).
But i do love brawn, so i had to find another way of making it.
If you haven't tried brawn, imagine a chunky meat pate held together with gelatin, almost like the innards of a really good pork pie. Heaven on hot toast.
So, how to make brawn without using the heads...
My only concession is to use the bath chaps (the cheeks) that i carefully remove from the heads, and toss them into a large pot. Also in go the trotters back and front, the tail, ham hock and any trimmings and bones. A pinch of mace (small pinch), a few juniper berries, black pepper corns, a couple bay leaves, a whole onion skin on cut in half and a carrot. Cover in water, put a lid on and simmer for five or six hours.
Allow it to cool and strip all the meat into a pile before packing reasonably tight into a loaf tin, and then strain the juice until it just tops the meat, then pop it into the fridge to chill down completely, before turning out and slicing.
I admit it is a bit of a faff, but I'm really keen on the whole nose to tail eating, and i think that if I've reared the pigs it shows good respect for the animal to use as much of it as possible.
The funny thing is when we come to sell it at the farmers' markets, and have learned to have two trays of identical brawn, but labeled differently. For those who feel brawn is old fashioned and can't stand the thought of eating something made from a pigs head, we call it Pork Terrine, and for the other half, it's good old Brawn. We sell out every week.
As far as I'm concerned, brawn or terrine it's hansom!