Friday, January 15, 2010

Head Cheese and Blood Tongue Sausage

While at Gazzolo's recently buying wurst, I noticed two types of sausage that I've never tasted before (and never had any desire to taste): head cheese and blood tongue sausage. I ordered a quarter pound of each. Head cheese is not cheese at all, but a meat jelly made with pieces from the head of a calf or pig. The organs are removed from the head, cleaned and simmered to produce a stock. When cooled, the stock congeals because of the natural gelatin found in the skull. It is usually eaten cold or at room temperature as a luncheon meat (Wikipedia).

I was actually quite astonished to find that I liked the head cheese. The thinly sliced pieces are such that you can't recognize what you are eating and the gelatin is similar in taste, although firmer, than that found in canned ham. Any problem with eating it is clearly a mental thing. I would have no problem eating it plain or on a sandwich. Blood tongue sausage is a different matter. I enjoy bits of cooked blood in roasts and steaks, but I've found that blood in sausage is an entirely different taste. I had some blood sausage in Peru and was surprised that I really did not like it. I could eat it, but I did not enjoy it. I found the same with the blood tongue sausage.

It is actually a variety of head cheese, but with blood instead of the gelatin. According to Wikipedia, it is made from pig's blood, suet, bread crumbs and oatmeal with chunks of pickled ox's tongue. It is apparently often browned in butter or bacon fat before eating. I read that too late to try it that way. It would likely taste better warmed and combined with butter or bacon fat (after all, isn't just about anything better with those additions!). The blood tongue has a thicker, heavier texture and stronger taste. Several days removed from eating it, I probably can't describe it as bitter, but it tends in that direction. I suspect it is an acquired taste.


  1. Sounds Delicious! You should be well prepared for an apocalypse. :)

  2. Blood sausage is the one you brown and you can mix with potatoes for a hash like item. the above is a coldcut in the picture

  3. I've eaten Tongue Sausage and grew up in Cleveland, Oh. back when Ethnic communities still existed there. For me, it was something I loved the taste of and, yes, it definitely has a taste that demands that you either love it or don't. Sadly it is very hard to find and the younger generation in those commutities that still exist have gone over to the darkside of McDonalds and Burger King. I doubt in 10 years that it will even be around.

  4. Wikipedia's description of Blood & Tongue sausage is only one recipe. Others use a variety of tongues and bloods, most omit the oatmeal. What we've had, and enjoy, does not "taste" of blood at all, nor does it leave it bitter taste in ones mouth. Like any sausage, there are many recipes for the same thing, and the only way to judge is to try several.