Head Cheese


This is a very old recipe handed down in my family through the years. It is almost always made around Christmas. As far as I know, I am the only one left in the family who knows how to make it. It is very time consuming, so be prepared to spend the better part of a day to make it.

Prep Time:
5 hrs
Cook Time:
1 hrs
Additional Time:
8 hrs
Total Time:
14 hrs
5 loaves


  • 6 fresh ham hocks

  • 2 pounds veal shank

  • salt to taste

  • ¼ cup white vinegar

  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg


  1. Place pork hocks, veal shank and salt in large kettle. Cover entirely with water. Bring to full boil then reduce heat to slow simmer. Cook until fork penetrates meat easily. Periodically rearrange meat so it doesn't stick to bottom of kettle. Skim off scum which forms on top of water. Keep adding boiling water to keep meat covered until done.

  2. When meat is done, place on large cookie sheet for cooling. Strain remaining water into another kettle to remove any small bones and other matter; set aside strained water. Place meat on tray and cool. Remove all fat and bones. Dice remaining meat, skin and soft gristle. Add diced meat to strained water. Bring to full boil and reduce to very slow simmer. Add salt to taste at this time. Periodically test mixture to see if it sets by pouring a small amount in a bowl and putting in freezer. Mixture is set when it is the consistency of jello. Add vinegar and nutmeg and remove from heat.

  3. Ladle into bread pans making sure to distribute meat evenly. Fill pans no more than 3/4 full. Leave at room temperature until cool then refrigerate overnight. Next day, unmold onto plastic wrap and double wrap in foil. refrigerate until ready to use. To serve, remove any fat from top of loaves and cut into chunks. Some prefer more vinegar and salt added at this time.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

302 Calories
23g Fat
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 50
Calories 302
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 23g 30%
Saturated Fat 8g 41%
Cholesterol 84mg 28%
Sodium 67mg 3%
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 9mg 1%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 335mg 7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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