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This recipe is classed as advanced

Rating 3.40 / 5 (173 votes)

Prep time:
40 min, plus 36 hrs soaking and chilling
Cook time:
4 hrs 20 min

Serve up a classic British dish with James Martin's magnificent brawn made with pig's head, trotters, herbs and spices


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.


For the brine

  • 3 litres water
  • 1 kg salt

For the brawn

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Latest Comment


can't wait to try this,looks well tasty x

johnM31001 johnM31001  Posted 26 Aug 2014 4:17 PM

I can't help but feel that a ratio of one head to four trotters makes more sense than six.

DafyddM82786 DafyddM82786  Posted 30 Jul 2012 5:19 PM

I have always wanted to have a go at making brawn. Now I have! This recipe is delicious. I made a slight variation: I reduced the stock by half. This made the brawn set during the afternoon, so we could have it for dinner (I have frozen the rest as solid jelly). It was a little salty, but the new potatoes overcame that problem. The brawn eaten cold with rosemary, gin and juniper jelly (from Bay Tree)and some crusty bread was absolutely delicious (especialy with a glass of Malbec!)and the saltiness was not apparent. Can't wait to make it again.

MARYF50410 MARYF50410  Posted 14 Jul 2011 9:32 AM

Try soaking in water with 1tbsp of sugar for 2 hours, this should reduce the salt content.

TrishB47825 TrishB47825 Posted 06 Feb 2009 7:38 AM

Make sure you drain the brine after the initial soaking as this is to sterilise, also maybe rinse the head after soaking

Manuker Manuker Posted 06 Jan 2009 11:19 PM

The texture of the brawn was perfect BUT far too salty- this was our first attempt at this recipe so we were a little dissapointed. Was the recipe correct - 1kg of salt seems rather a lot. We will try it again shortly BUT with a lot less salt.

Cindy2446 Cindy2446 Posted 01 Jan 2009 11:48 AM