May 20th, 2011
I was cycling past Cramers (a local butchers shop) on Friday and noticed a calf’s head in the window. I usually look in as I pass, since they are one of the few butcher’s shops which sell pig’s heads. Calf’s heads are far more unusual, so this one really warranted a photograph. As I focused my camera, the butcher poked his head around the door and asked if I’d like to come in to take the picture – that was an offer I couldn’t refuse. The butcher told me he’d bought two calf’s heads that morning in Smithfield, one had already been sold. He said that even in Smithfield the pair had been unusual, being something in general that people no longer want. The price was about £17 – rather more expensive than a pig’s head, but the brain and tongue are items that would fetch about £10 on their own.
I asked the butcher how one would normally eat a calf’s head (speculating that one might cook it like brawn). He said he thought people would eat the individual parts, such as the cheeks, brain and tongue. I Googled calf’s head recipes and discovered that it’s the main constituent in mock turtle soup, once popular with oysters, cooked in a pie and even boiled with a minimum amount of seasoning as a dish in its own right. I was a bit busy this weekend, so I didn’t buy it, but I might buy the next pig’s head that I see hanging around!
To braise a whole calf’s head see the recipe here.
Cramers is at 392 York Way, N7 9LW. Google Map
There’s an interview with Mr. Cramer on The Food Programme, 5th June 2016.