I hate that I didn't get to make souse with the hog we just butchered but such is life. I had to laugh a lil when I was looking for the recipe for souse that I made a long time ago. Good thing I had enough sense to write it down. I think it was written in the early 80's and thas probably the last time I made souse meat. My method is kinda Appalachian recipe and way of doing it. So for all who know what good souse meat taste like and want to make it, here's the destructions.
You will need at least one cleaned hogs head. Now this is not something for the faint of heart. It is kinda messy taking the head apart. You will need a good meat saw to do this. Your first cut will be thru the jaw sockets and separate the lower jaw from the rest of the head. You can now trim off any excessively bloody bits and I use a brush to scrub the teeth really well or you can saw them off, your choice. Then the lower jaw can be sawed in half to make smaller pieces. Have ready a large container of heavily salted water to drop the prepared pieces into. Now using the saw cut off and discard about 4 or 5 inches of the snout. This is just tough tissue you most likely wont want in your end product. Then saw the head in half starting midway between the ears and separate into 2 pieces. Remove the brains using a sharp knife. These can be scrambled with eggs for breakfast, I prefer to give em to the dog as a treat. With your knife cut off the ears, they are also just gristle and not very good in souse. Using the point of a sharp knife cut out all the ear canal as far in as you can go. Now take the saw and cut those 2 halves in half again going just under the eyes. Once this cut is made, using your sharp knife remove the eyes and discard. Now you have successfully disassembled a hogs head. If you would like to have the pieces a lil smaller, use the saw to cut them into pieces to fit in what ever container you plan to cook them in. All this now goes into the salted water to sit over night. In the morning rinse the meat really well and believe it or not the meat is a really pretty clean color. Put the rinsed meat into your pressure canner and add about 1/4 cup vinegar and cover with water. Put on the stove and cook at 10 lb pressure for about 2 hours. Let the pressure drop and the whole thing cool till you can use your hands and get the meat out of the liquid. Remove each chunk of meat from the water and separate it from the bones and put the cleaned meat in another large kettle, fat, skin, lean meat and all go in. Proceed till you have all the meat out of the water. Strain the water into another pot to remove any tiny bones and fragments that are still in there. Set the liquid aside to use later. Now with your hands squeeze the meat up really fine till it has a rather smooth consistency. It should have some texture but not be chunky.Some people like to grind the meat, I don't like the texture of the meat ground. Once it is all squeezed up and smooth add some of the liquid back to the meat to make it the consistency of really thick soup. Now its seasoning and cooking time. Set the kettle of meat and liquid on the stove and heat to simmering. Add salt to taste, black pepper, sage till you can just barely taste it and a dash of cayenne. A couple tablespoons of brown sugar will enhance the flavor of the souse with making it sweet. There is really no recipe for this as hogs heads vary in size and so would the amount of ingredients. You just taste as you go and season to your liking. Once you have the seasoning right to suit you toss into the simmering meat a handful of plan cornmeal. Let this cook in a bit. Add cornmeal a handful at a time till the mixture is really thick and will almost but not quite hold its shape when you stir it. I would not recommend more than maybe 2 cups of cornmeal total in a average batch of souse meat. Let the meat simmer till the cornmeal has had time to kinda cook a lil and soften. Take the kettle off the heat. At this point you can pour the meat mixture into loaf pans or any pan of your choice to chill. Once you have it in the pans, set in the fridge to chill and set. Once it has chilled you can turn out the loaves and slice cold for sandwiches, slice and dredge in flour and fry quickly in hot lard till crisp on the outside or take a slice and heat it in the microwave till hot and melty and eat with crackers kinda like potted meat. The old folks never let anything go to waste when they butchered. This is very much like scrapple that is made by the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Now for pickled pigs feet. Yes they are good and easy to make really. Procure you some pigs feet that have been cleaned. If you have done your own butchering you will need to saw off the toes. Your can also saw the feet in half to make em short enough to fit in quart jars. Then split them length wise in half. Once you have done this drop them in a kettle of water and simmer for about half an hour till almost tender. Remove from the water and rinse and pack the feet into clean quart jars. Then you make a pickling mix. For every 2 cups of white vinegar add 2 tablespoons of salt and 1 tablespoon of mixed pickling spice. This recipe can be doubled as many times as need to have enough liquid to cover all the pigs feet in the jars. Once the feet are covered with the pickling liquid put the lids on the jars and put in pressure canner. Pressure can at 10 lb pressure for 90 minutes as with any other meat. Let pressure drop on its own. Adjust time for your elevations of course. Remove from the canner and let seal. Store for at least 2 weeks before tasting. This gives them plenty of time to take the pickling mixture. So yummy. Now you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Till next time, blessings from the McGuire homestead.