Watch Chow Bella Make Head Cheese With Chef James Porter of Petite Maison in Scottsdale

Categories: Chef and Tell, DIY

Lauren Saria
Contrary to what the name might suggest, head cheese involves no dairy.
We've already showed you where you can find some of the most delicious offal in metro Phoenix, but don't worry, the fun doesn't stop there. This week Chow Bella ventured into the kitchen with chef James Porter of Scottsdale's Petite Maison restaurant as they gear up for their annual Halloween Offal Dinner. As always the menu includes head cheese, a classic dish found in cultures all over the world. And we got to help make some.

Though the name implies head cheese is, well, a cheese, it's actually a cold cut -- or more accurately, a meat jelly made from an animal head and other body parts like feet and heart. It sounds pretty yucky (trust us, we know) but at its root this dish is about history, tradition and sustainability.

See also: 10 Best Offal Dishes in Metro Phoenix

As chef Porter explains, throughout history head cheese was a way to ensure no part of an animal got wasted.

Lauren Saria
Chef James Porter of Petite Maison
"If a farmer raised an pig or a cow, he wouldn't just say, 'I want the short ribs,' and throw the rest away," he says.

Makes sense.

And in most other countries, eating only "the beauty cuts" as Porter calls them, would be an unthinkable and wasteful practice. Plus from a culinary standpoint, Porter says doing so overlooks some of the animal's tastiest parts. Body parts that "move around a lot" (like tails, for example) pack a lot of flavor, Porter says, but require more complex preparation than just being thrown on a grill.

Just because Americans don't tend to think of head cheese as typical sandwich meat, doesn't mean it's a foreign idea to everyone else. Many countries' cuisines include a variation of meat terrine. While France calls theirs head cheese, or fromage de tête, Germany calls their similar dish sülze, schwartenmagen or presskopf. You can find other riffs in countries as disparate as Russia, Brazil, Spain and Sweden.

Location Info

Petite Maison

7216 E. Shoeman Lane, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant

The Super L Ranch Market

668 N. 44th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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What a thoughtful and thorough article Lauren! Kudos to you for spending the day with us shopping, picking, and molding our headcheese. You are a trooper! Taking the time to learn the behind the scenes process for this dish, and our craft, means a great deal to *all* restauranteurs, farmers and food producers.. 

PS: Chef James just texted me that your headcheese is *delicious*! Nice job!

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