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Head cheese, Elizabeth's restaurant, New Orleans

Head cheese (Dutch: hoofdkaas) or brawn is a cold cut terrine or meat jelly that originated in Europe.[where?] It is made with flesh from the head of a calf or pig (less commonly a sheep or cow), typically set in aspic, and usually eaten cold, at room temperature, or in a sandwich. Despite its name the dish is not a cheese and contains no dairy products. The parts of the head used vary, and may include the tongue but do not commonly include the brain, eyes or ears. Trimmings from more commonly eaten cuts of pork and veal are often used, and sometimes the feet and heart, with gelatin added as a binder.

Variations of head cheese exist throughout Europe and elsewhere, with differences in preparation and ingredients. A version pickled with vinegar is known as souse.[1] Historically, meat jellies were made of the head of an animal, less its organs, which would be simmered to produce a naturally gelatinous stock that would congeal as the dish cooled. Meat jellies made this way were commonly a peasant food and have been made since the Middle Ages. Modern head cheese recipes may require additional gelatin, or more often need to be reduced to set properly.


The English term "head cheese" is a calque derived from the Dutch word hoofdkaas, which literally translates to "head cheese".[2] The term hoofdkaas can be divided into hoofd (head) originating from the animal heads commonly used to prepare the dish, and kaas (cheese) describing the texture, which resembles that of cheese.[3]


The term "head cheese" is used in North America,[4][5][6] "potted heid" in Scotland,[7][8] and "brawn" elsewhere in Britain[7][9][10][11][12][13] and Australia.[14] The term "souse", a corruption of the German Sülze, is used for the pickled variety in North America and the West Indies.[15]

By country


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German Sülze
Saurer Presssack
When using only pure meat of highest quality (i.e., without fat, gristle or meat of lower quality) it is called Kaisersülze (Emperor's Aspic).
German Schwartenmagen in a tin as it is sold as a type of Hausmacher-Wurst, i.e. homemade sausage
Sliced Latvian head cheese
Camembert, head cheese, and terrine de campagne
Huspenina (also called studeno, meaning "cold one") is similar to a certain extent, but made with less meat and more gelatine. It is more similar to aspic, pork jelly, or hladetina.
Potted heid, a Scottish version of head cheese


South Africa: Known as sult in Afrikaans and brawn in South African English. It is often flavoured with curry.


Iran: a common dish for breakfast known as "ckallepache" Or according to common culture kallapch serves in special restaurant: kallepazi. Cooked head of sheep marinated in its oil and cinnamon. Iranians eat it as a heavy dish from about 5:00am.

China: In certain parts of Northern China, such as Beijing, 'pig head meat' is cooked and thinly sliced and served at room temperature. In the Southern parts of China, Xiao Rou (肴肉) is made by boning and pickling pig trotters with brine and alum. The meat is then rolled, pressed and eaten cold.[22] In northeastern China, a jellied pork skin dish is often made and served with a spicy soy sauce and vinegar mixture with crushed garlic and red chili powder.[23]

Korea: In Korean cuisine, a similar dish, pyeonyuk (편육), is made by pressing meat, usually from the head of the pig. It is eaten as anju (dishes associated with alcoholic beverages) or used for janchi (잔치, for feast or banquet).

Vietnam: In Vietnam, giò thủ is a similar cold cut dish made around Tết, for New Year celebrations. It is a dish popular in the North and made of pork belly, pig's ears, garlic, scallions, onions, wood ear mushrooms, fish sauce, and cracked black pepper. Traditionally, giò thủ is wrapped in banana leaves and compressed in a wooden mold until the gelatin in the pig's ears bind it together.

A piece of giò thủ


In Australia, it is known as brawn or Presswurst. It is usually seen as something of an old-fashioned dish, although various large firms, such as D'Orsogna, Don Smallgoods and KR Castlemaine produce it.


Souse is pickled meat and trimmings usually made from pig's feet, chicken feet or cow's tongue, to name a few parts.[24] The cooked meat or trimmings are cut into bite-sized pieces and soaked in a brine made of water, lime juice, cucumbers, hot pepper, salt and specially prepared seasonings. Usually it is eaten on Saturday mornings, especially in St. Vincent and Barbados. In Trinidad and Tobago, it is served or sold at most social gatherings, such as parties, all-inclusive fetes and sporting competitions.

Latin America

Head cheese is popular and is usually referred to as queso de cabeza in Chile and Colombia. In Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Costa Rica, it is also known as queso de chancho. It is known as queso de Cerdo in Uruguay and Argentina. In Panama, it is known as sous (from Caribbean English souse), made with pig's feet and prepared the same way as in the Caribbean; it is a dish from the Caribbean coast, where most of Panama's West Indian community resides.

In Brazil, head cheese is popular among the gaucho population and is commonly known as queijo de porco (pig cheese). In the German-colonized cities, such as Pomerode and Blumenau, it follows the German recipe and is known as Sülze.

In Mexico, it is known as queso de puerco and is usually spiced with oregano, vinegar, garlic, and black pepper.[25]

North America

Alberta, Canada: the typical jellied meat available in stores is labelled "head cheese", whether or not it is actually made from the head. The large Eastern European community in the province also has a (declining) tradition of making jellied meat at home, usually from pigs' feet, and this is called studenetz in the local dialect of the Ukrainian language.

Pennsylvania, United States: In the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect, head cheese is called souse. Pennsylvania Germans usually prepare it from the meat of pig's feet or tongue and it is pickled with sausage.

Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and other portions of the Upper Midwest, United States: Head cheese and sulze are both made from pork snouts and tongues, but head cheese often uses larger chunks of smoked meat, while sulze generally uses unsmoked, chopped meat and has added vinegar and pickles.

Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and other portions of the Deep South, United States: The highly seasoned hog's head cheese is very popular as a cold cut or appetizer. A pig's foot provides the gelatin that sets the cheese, and vinegar is typically added to give a sour taste. It is a popular Cajun food and is often encountered seasoned with green onions. It is called in Louisiana French; fromage de cochon. In Mississippi, Alabama, and other Southern states, it is encountered in a spicy form known as souse or less spicy hog's head cheese.

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada: Throughout Newfoundland, brawn is typically made from wild game such as moose and caribou.

Ontario, Canada: Commercial, processed versions made with pork are sold in the deli section in some grocery stores in Ontario, such as in the German 'heimat' of Waterloo Region.

Quebec, Canada: Called tête fromagée, it is commonly available in grocery stores and butcher shops along with cretons and terrines.

Prince Edward Island, Canada: Now uncommon and seen as old fashioned. It was common before 1970 and often referred to as Potted head or Potted meat.

New Brunswick, Canada: A spread similar to cretons made from pork head and Boston Butt and seasoned primarily with onion, salt, and summer savory, is often referred to as head cheese.

See also


  1. ^ "Souse". A Coalcracker in the Kitchen. 2018-12-09. Retrieved 2021-03-23.
  2. ^ "head cheese", Wiktionary, 2021-12-15, retrieved 2022-12-06
  3. ^ "Zoekresultaten". Retrieved 2022-12-06.
  4. ^ "headcheese noun - definition in British English Dictionary & Thesaurus - Cambridge Dictionary Online". 2013-06-11. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  5. ^ "Definition of headcheese". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  6. ^ "headcheese: definition of headcheese in Oxford dictionary (British & World English)". 2013-06-19. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  7. ^ a b McNeill, F. Marian (1929). The Scots Kitchen (2006 ed.). Edinburgh: Mercat Press. p. 139. ISBN 1-84183-070-4. potted head (or Scots brawn)
  8. ^ Robinson, Mairi (1985). The Concise Scots Dictionary. Aberdeen University Press. p. 512. ISBN 0-08-028492-2.
  9. ^ "Search Chambers - Free English Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2013-11-10. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  10. ^ "Definition of brawn". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  11. ^ "brawn - Definition from Longman English Dictionary Online". Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  12. ^ "brawn: definition of brawn in Oxford dictionary (British & World English)". 2013-06-19. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  13. ^ "Brawn - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary". 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  14. ^ The Macquarie Dictionary and Thesaurus. Macquarie Uni., NSW 2109, Australia: Herron. 1991. p. 55. ISBN 0-949757-59-4.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location (link)
  15. ^ "Souse: definition of souse in Oxford dictionary (British & World English)". 2013-06-19. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  16. ^ 600 Years of Bratwurst, Head Cheese and the First Riesling of the World in Katzenelnbogen
  17. ^ June Meyers Authentic Hungarian Heirloom Recipes Cookbook
  18. ^ "Resources" (PDF). Food & Living. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2022-10-09. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  19. ^ O'Sullivan, Kevin. "National treasures like brawn, cream crackers and blaas get just desserts". The Irish Times.
  20. ^ Outras Comidas. "Cabeça de Xara, Receita Cabeça de Xara". Archived from the original on 2012-03-14. Retrieved 2013-06-01.
  21. ^ "Plowt". Dictionary of the Scots Language. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  22. ^ 断桥冬雪 (January 25, 2006). "记忆里的镇江肴肉(图)" (in Chinese).
  23. ^ "易记域名". Archived from the original on January 9, 2009.
  24. ^ Sinful alterations ruin boxed chocolates [Ontario Edition] March 27, 2002 page D.04 Toronto Star
  25. ^ The People's Guide to Mexico By Carl Franz, Carl Franz, Lorena Havens, Steve Rogers, Lorena Havens