Monday, November 2, 2015

Tavern Style Black Head Cheese Sub!

     An Old School Philly Tavern Style Head Cheese Sub For Old Time Football Fans!
     Head Cheese is popular in Pennsylvania Dutch Country.  Many Amish style Head Cheese varieties can be found in local Philadelphia food markets.
     Overall, items like Head Cheese, Souse and Liverwurst are not as popular as it used to be in Philly.  Local consumer demographics have changed.  A high percentage of German and Eastern European downtown residents moved out to the suburbs during the last 50 years.
     Once folks settle for suburban life, it is just a matter of time before mediocrity sets in.  In other words, fast food and middle of the road food eventually replaces the old world heritage food that was once common in big city delicatessens and downtown corner food stores.  In the suburbs, one is lucky to find a few national brand packages of sliced Head Cheese hidden in a dark corner of the lunchmeat aisle at a gigantic corporate grocery store.    
     The saving grace is members of Eastern European ethnic persuasion that operate specialty food shops in suburbia.  Often these kinds of shops are tucked away in a small plaza and they are not heavily advertised.  All it takes is a few minutes of internet browsing to locate a good little deli that specializes in old world specialty food, like varieties of Head Cheese.

     Head Cheese is often featured as an item that is found in a psychopathic killer's refrigerator in a horror movie.  Head Cheese is also known as "Autopsy Loaf!"  This all might be amusing, but bad publicity like this does not help the Head Cheese cause.  Head Cheese deserves better than this!

     From a heath perspective, Head Cheese has a lot to offer.  The head scrapings yield very lean chunks of meat.  The aspic offers plenty of easy to digest cartilaginous compounds that help to build strong joints.  After eating Head Cheese for a few meals, one can even notice improved fingernail growth and strength.  The rich pork aspic is the reason why.

     There are several varieties of Head Cheese and Black Head Cheese is one of the most interesting.  Those who like Blood Sausage will like Black Head Cheese.  The aspic in Black Head Cheese is made with beef blood.  Those who have iron deficiencies will benefit from Black Head Cheese.
     Black Head Cheese is well like by people that prefer strong tasting food.  The metallic beef blood flavor lingers on the tastebuds for nearly an entire day after eating Black Head Cheese.  For nearly 12 hours, any other food that is consumed will not taste like it is supposed to taste.  The distorted perception of taste is interesting to say the least.
     Black Head Cheese is sometimes called Belmont Head Cheese at delicatessens.  Customers are expected to know that Belmont Head Cheese is Black Head Cheese.  Most Head Cheese fans can tell by looks alone, because the aspic is darker looking than regular Head Cheese aspic.
     Chefs and home cooks that are interested in traditional Eastern European specialty meats will like what the Belmont Sausage Company has to offer.  Here is a hyperlink to their website:
     • Belmont Sausage Company
     The place to find Black Head Cheese in Las Vegas is the Jones Market-Eastern European at 3389 South Jones Boulevard.  The Jones Market specializes in Russian food and Eastern European specialties.

     In the suburbs and townships that surround Philadelphia, there is a tavern in almost every neighborhood where the locals hang out.  Some of the old Philly taverns have been in business since before the American Revolutionary War.
     Tradition runs thick in Philly taverns, but as mentioned before, times have changed.  Items like Liverwurst, Braunschweiger, Souse, Scrapple, Liver Mush, Blood Sausage and Head Cheese are rarely offered at taverns these days.  Pre-made manufactured frozen fast food products have replaced the old traditional food at many local taverns in the name of profit.
     Even the huge jars of pickled pig feet, pickled sausages and pickled eggs on the bar counter are becoming fewer and further between.  These jars used to sit on the bar countertop and a sign posted nearby said "Place 50¢ apiece in the basket and serve yourself!"  
     Anyway, today's sandwich is a throwback to the old days of Philly tavern style food.  On football game day, big sub sandwiches made with local lunchmeat specialties used to be offered on tavern special boards.  In the old days, Philly tavern customers liked big portions of local food specialties as much as the Eagles football team.
     Standard Macaroni Salad:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion!
     Step 1:  Cook 1 large portion of elbow macaroni in salted boiling water, till the pasta is just a little bit softer than al dente.
     Place the pot under cold running water and gradually cool the pasta.
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Place the pasta in a mixing bowl.
     Step 2:  Add 1 tablespoon if small chopped celery.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped carrot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of small chopped green onion.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of dijon mustard.
     Step 3:  Add just enough mayonnaise to coat the pasta and bind the ingredients together.  (About 1/4 cup to 1/3 cup.)
     Step 4:  Add sea salt and white pepper to taste.
     Toss the ingredients together.
     Chill the macaroni salad for 30 minutes.
     Pickled Eggs:
     I have posted a few pickled eggs recipes so far.  Today's recipe is modeled after commercial pickled eggs in big glass jars.
     Step 1:  Cook 6 to 12 hard boiled large eggs using this method:  
     • Place the eggs in a pot of cold salted water.  
     • Bring to boil.  
     • Set the timer for 12 minutes.  
     • After the timer goes off, set the pot in a sink.  Gradually cool the eggs under cold running water.     
     • Peel the eggs under cold running water.
     Step 2:  Place 1 quart of water in a stainless steel sauce pot.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Kosher Salt.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.
     Add 1/4 teaspoon of Morton Tender Quick curing salt mixture.
     *Do not substitute any other curing salt mixture in place of Morton Tender Quick.  If none is available, just add 1/2 teaspoon more of Kosher Salt.
     Step 3:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of onion powder.
     Add 1 pinch of Hungarian Paprika.
     Add 1 pinch of garlic powder.
     Add 2 to 3 drops of organic red food color or 1/2 cup of rich red beet juice.
     Step 4:  Bring the liquid to a gentle boil over medium heat.
     Remove the pot from the heat.
     Step 5:  Place the peeled eggs in the hot red pickling brine.
     Allow the brine to cool to room temperature.
     Step 6:  Place the brine and eggs in a glass jar.
     Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days.

     Eastern European Style Cider Slaw:
     This recipe yields about 1 1/4 cups.
     Step 1:  Place 1 3/4 cups of very thin sliced cabbage in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar.
     Add 1 tablespoon of water.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar.
     Add 1 pinch of ginger powder.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh dill weed.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint.
     Add Kosher Salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 2:  Toss the ingredients together.
     Refrigerate for one hour or till the cabbage wilts.
     Step 3:  Just before serving, place the slaw in a fine mesh strainer and drain off the excess liquid.

     Shoe String Fries:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion!
     A French Mandolin is best for cutting shoestring potatoes, but care must be taken when using this dangerous kitchen tool.  
     Step 1:  Cut a 6 ounce peeled russet potato lengthwise into very thin slices.  (about 1/8" to 3/16" thick)
     Stack the slices up on a cutting board and cut them into long very thin strips.
     Step 2:  Heat 6" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Sprinkle the thin potato strips into the frying oil, a few small bunches at a time.
     Gently toss the shoe string potatoes in the oil with a long handled fryer net, so the potato strips do not stick together.
     Fry the shoestring potatoes, till they are crispy golden brown.
     Step 4:  Use a fryer net to scoop the finished shoestring potatoes out of the hot oil.
     Place the fries on a wire screen roasting rack to drain off any excess oil.
     Sprinkle some sea salt over the crispy shoe string potatoes.
     Keep the shoestring fries warm on a stove top.

     Tavern Style Black Head Cheese Sub:
     This recipe yields 1 large sub sandwich.
     Russian Mustard is strong and bold tasting!  
     Split an 8" to 10" whole wheat sub roll or bolillo roll open.
     Spread some Russian Mustard on the bread.
     Place a thick layer of the Cider Slaw on the roll.
     Place several thin slices of Belmont Black Head Cheese on the slaw.  (About 6 to 7 ounces)
     Cut 2 Pickled Eggs lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices.
     Overlap the Pickled Egg Slices on the Black Head Cheese.

     Gridiron Presentation:
     Large brown football shaped party platters can be found at dollar stores this time of year.  Dollar stores also sell restaurant glassware and plates that have gone out of style! 
     Place a bed of Shoestring fries on the center of a football party platter.
     Place the Tavern Style Black Head Cheese Sub on the fries.
     Mound a generous portion of Macaroni Salad on one end of the football platter.
     Place an assortment of pickles of your choice on the other end of the platter.
     Garnish the Mac Salad with a parsley sprig or cilantro sprig.

     A classic old school tavern style sub!

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