Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Greasy Doorknobs Part II

A continuation of our day processing a pig.  After the sausage was made and meat cut up and packaged we set about trying our hand at making livermush and souse meat.  For those outside of the southern region, and probably outside of North Carolina let me explain about livermush.   Other areas of the country have similar products, scrapple and liver pudding for example but, they are not livermush.  To make livermush you have to use the pig's head.  No ears or eyes though.  We were going by Farmer Joe's grandad's general instructions so we were a little nervous about how it would turn out.  The longest part of this process is the boiling of the head to get the meat to fall off the bones, it took about five hours of cooking for us.  You boil the liver in a separate pot, this is due to the fact that you will use the broth from the boiled head, but you don't want to use the broth from the liver.  Once the meat is falling off the bones, you take it out of the pot and strain the broth and put the broth back in the pot.  Pick the meat off the bones, reserving at least a cup of lean meat for Souse Meat (more on this later).  Then run the meat and the liver through a grinder and put it back in the broth.  Next comes a tricky part, add spices to taste.  We used salt, black pepper, sage and cayenne pepper.  Bring the pot to a boil and stir.

As you can see we used a really big pot.  I could stir it standing on the floor, but kept getting close to burning my arm.  So out came the step stool, I am only five foot tall.  This worked perfect but Farmer Joe, Jim and Sharon got a big kick out of it.

Once the pot is back to boiling add in white cornmeal, lots of it!  And stir constantly.  It gets thick so this was Farmer Joe's job.  He was the only one with enough stamina to keep at it.                                      

 It is kind of a crapshoot about knowing when it is thick enough, we judged by the spoon method.  When the spoon did not sink we guessed it was good.   This what it looked like.

Please don't say "Eww!"  I know that it does not look real appetizing, but remember we weren't done with it yet.
Have lot's of lightly greased pans at the ready and ladle it in.

Set them in a refrigerator overnight to cool and set up.  Then unmold and enjoy.  We ended up with about 35 pounds of livermush.  Thirty four of it in molds.  Farmer Joe's favorite way to eat it is right out of the pot warm with a streak of mustard.  So we all indulged, some more than others.  I think Farmer Joe's final count was four and a half sandwiches.  The normal way to eat livermush is slice it and fry it up in a pan til the outside is a little crispy but still soft on the inside.  You can add whatever you want to the sandwich, but eggs (my favorite), mustard, onions, or coleslaw are the most common.

Now the Souse Meat.  This is basically a slightly pickled, gellied mold of meat.  I know that does not sound appealing, you just have to taste it.
Measure out the amount of lean meat (a little fat on it is good, but not too much) you reserved.  However much meat you have you will need that same amount of broth.  I measured and reserved my broth before we made the livermush.  In a pan heat your broth and 4 to 6 tablespoons of vinegar til boiling then add spices to taste.  I used salt, a bay leaf and crushed red pepper.  Boil for five minutes, then add your lean meat and simmer for five more.  Scoop out the meat and place in a small loaf pan and pour over the broth.  Cover in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator with some type of weight on top.   The next day take it out and unmold.

Okay, again many of you will say "Eww!"  But a little bit of that vinegary, spicy meat on a saltine cracker is heaven to me.

We took a couple of pounds of livermush and half the loaf of souse meat to Farmer Joe's grandad.  We are anxiously awaiting his critique.  We hope he likes it and we hope he is proud of us for starting to carry on a family tradition.


  1. Seems to me that I read about making these two dishes in the Fox Fire series of books!

    Some of the old recipes are still handy to have around!

  2. Boy, that all sounds delicious. I remember when I was just a youngster the slaughtering of hogs at my Grampa's and all of the many dishes that were made out of it. Nothing wasted. Wish I had a piece of the feast.

  3. Gosh, I don't think I could try it but glad you folks really like it. (Sorry, but it looks icky)

  4. HermitJim, it never even dawned on me that those type recipes would be in the Foxfire series. Living in this region I have never read them, but now you have sparked my interest and I think I will head to the library to see if I can find them.

    MSgt Jim, would love to share the feast with you. A hog killing is always a fun time as friends and family come together.

    JMD, don't be sorry about the icky. It is a regional thing and I am sure there are "delicacies" around our country that I would hesitate to try. Farmer Joe is the more adventurous one when it comes to food, then if he says it is good, I try it out.

  5. The Souse is made the same way as the Hogs Head Cheese I ate when I lived in Florida. All the ingredients are put in a nylon stocking and hung in the fridge overnight to drain and harden up. Strip off the stocking the next day and you have a nice torpedo of "head cheese." Easy to slice and put on a saltine. Heaven.
    Thanks for a great post!
    Come visit us in Vermont when you have a chance:
    Happy New Year!

    1. Janis, some refer to it as Head Cheese down here also. Never tried the stocking trick, but it sounds interesting. If I ever get up that way, will give you a hollar, only if you do the same if you are ever in my neck of the woods.