Serve up a classic British dish with James Martin's magnificent brawn made with pig's head, trotters, herbs and spices
By James Martin
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8
  • Cook Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes plus 36 hrs soaking and chilling
  • Effort: hard


For the brine

  • 3 litres water
  • 1 kg salt

For the brawn

  • 1 pig's head, ears removed and quartered
  • 6 pig's trotters
  • 2 large carrots, sliced in half
  • 1 large sprigs thyme
  • 8 sage leaves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 4 banana shallots, finely chopped
  • 100 g parsley, chopped
  • new potatoes, to serve
  • crusty bread, to serve


1. For the brine: heat 1 litre of the water in a pan, then stir in the salt until it dissolves. Add the rest of the water and leave to cool completely. To check to see if the brine is strong enough, put a potato in it - if it sinks, it's too weak; if it pops up and down, the brine is just right.

2. For the brawn: using a blowtorch, burn any excess hairs on the pig's head - especially around the snout. Leave in the brine for 24 hours.

3. Drain the head and put it into a large stockpot. Cover with cold water and add the ears, trotters, carrots, thyme, sage, bay, cloves and coriander. Season with salt and pepper and slowly bring to the boil, removing any scum that floats to the surface. Simmer for a further 4 hours, topping up with water every now and again if it needs it, until the meat starts to fall from the bone.

4. Turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly. Remove the head and trotters from the pot and peel off the skin. Roughly chop the meat and the ears, and if you have the tongue, remove the coarse outer layer, chop and add to the mix.

5. Add the shallots and parsley and mix well. Strain the cooking liquor and pour a little at a time into the meat mixture, adding just enough to moisten. Line a terrine mould or earthenware dish with cling film and pile the brawn mixture in. Chill in the fridge for 12 hours with a weight on top to push it down. Remove and serve sliced with new potatoes and crusty bread.

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