Cooking a sheep's head is not for the faint of heart and many a less adventurous gastronome may become weak at the knees at the mere thought. For those with enough gall to go the distance, you will find that cooking a sheep's head is quite simple, and is a part of many cultural celebrations, from the feast of St. Andrew in Scotland, to the feast of Eid al Adha in Morocco; the sheep's head is centre stage.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Long barbecue tongs
- Stove or propane burner
- Stiff-bristled brush
- Bone saw
- Large steamer
- Cumin powder
- Large platter
- Fresh flat bread
- Large pot
- Various sides/sauces
Place the cleaned sheep's head directly onto the flame of a stove. If you only have an electric stove, use a propane burner. Singe the head until all the hair is burnt off and the head is blackened, turning it regularly with long barbecue tongs to achieve an even cover.
Scrub all the blackened hair off the head using a stiff-bristled brush, while running the head under cold water.
Cut the head in half with a bone saw and remove the brains and clean the inside cavity of the head well. Use the brains in other recipes, but keep the tongue in the head.
Preparing the Head
Fill a large steamer with water to just below the steaming rack. Add 2 tbsp of salt to the water and bring it to the boil.
Mix a 1 tbsp of salt and 1 tbsp of cumin powder together and rub it all over the two halves of the sheep's head. Place the head pieces in the steamer rack.
Put 2 roughly chopped medium-sized onions into the water of the steamer, as well as a small bouquet of coriander and parsley. Place the steaming rack into the steamer and close the lid. Steam for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is falling from the bones.
Serve on a large platter with two side plates with 1 tbsp each of salt and cumin in them to dip the meat into, as well as fresh flat bread.
Moroccan Steamed Sheep's Head
Place the cleaned and cut sheep's head into a large pot with enough water to just cover it. Bring to the boil.
Roughly chop 1 medium carrot, 1 onion and half a small bouquet of parsley and add to the pot when the water starts to boil, along with around 3 to 4 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of ground black pepper.
Simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until meat is very tender. Drain the water and remove the meat from the bones. Serve the meat and tongue with your choice of topping. Traditional toppings include onion sauce, caper dressing and home-made tomato sauce.
Scottish Boiled Sheep's Head
Place the cleaned sheep's head into a large pot and just cover with water. Add 3 tsp of salt to the water and bring to the boil
Simmer for 1 to 2 hours until the flesh is tender, but the meat is not falling from the bones.
Remove the meat from the skull as well as the tongue and serve with your choice of sides. Traditional sides include boiled potatoes, white sauce and lemon sauce.
Icelandic Boiled Sheep's Head
Tips and warnings
- Ask your butcher if he can prepare the sheep's head for you -- this will take most of the grisly work out of the equation.
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