Calf’s-Head brawn

(Recipe #69, page 92)

Thoroughly wash the head and heart of a well-fattened, freshly slaughtered calf, soak for 1–2 hours to extract the blood. Place it in an enameled kettle covered a bit more than half way with salted water, and boil it, skimming the foam, until the water is clear. Then add two teaspoons of peppercorns and an equal amount of allspice, along with 2 bay leaves, 3–4 medium-size onions, and enough vinegar to make the water taste tart.

Boil the head over moderate heat until it is quite soft, remove the meat from the bones, and strain the broth through a sieve. When the meat is totally cold, cut it into thin strips, then boil it another ¼–½ hour in a generous portion of the broth cleared of all sediment with seedless slices of a sweet lemon.

The brawn must have a strongly tart, spicy taste; when it is cold, its consistency must be such that thin, smooth slices can be cut from it, but it must not be too firm. If a calf’s foot is boiled with the head and heart, all the broth can be used for the brawn, yielding a larger quantity.

When the brawn is ready to be set, rinse a china mold or several small dishes with cold water, pour in the broth and meat distributed equally, and place the brawn in the coldest spot available. To serve remove the fat from the brawn with a knife, free it from the sides with the knife, and invert the dish over a suitable plate. This is a very economical and tasty accompaniment to sandwiches, salads, potato dishes, and root vegetables; with a sauce, it can also stand alone.

Note: If it is necessary to cook the brawn in an iron kettle, omit the vinegar at the beginning to prevent the brawn from taking on an iron flavor; add it 5–10 minutes before finishing the boiling (and the lemon slices as well).

Translated by David Green.

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