Pork Brawn (sylte)

Brawn ready to chill. The meat are here cut in larger pieces than I would normally do.

In US this is known as  brawn, in UK it's called head-cheese and the Danish version is called sylte.

Originally the brawn was made with head-meat from the pig. This is still a very good meat to use but now a days most people prefer a less fatty meat source and substitute, some or all, of the head-meat with pork shank and shoulder.

When I do have a pig head available I certainly use it for “brawn” and mix it with about 50% shank and shoulder. If I do not have one available I will use like 50% belly and another 50% pork shank or shoulder.

This gives me the type of brawn I really appreciate.


  • 3 kg meat from head, shank and shoulder 
  • For 5 liters water:
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1-2 green celery
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 20 whole black pepper
  • salt


  • Spice mixture:
  • ½ onion
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 Tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tsp all spice
  • ¼ Tsp cloves (optional – I don’t use it)
  • ¼ Tsp nutmeg
  1. Boil the chosen meat in enough water to cover all the meat.
  2. Depending on the cut and sizes it should boil from 1.5 – 2.5 hours until very tender. Use a fork to check for tenderness after 1 ½ hour. 
  3. When all the meat is ready, chop it up in small pieces with a very sharp chef knife or use a fork like you would do with “pulled pork”.
  4. Run the spice mixture in the food processor and mix it well with the chopped-up meat. 
  5. Place the meat in ½ liters forms (I use simple alu-forms) while it’s still warm.
  6. Strain about ½ liter of the soup and add 5 sheets of gelatin (or 1 big tbsp powder gelatin). 
  7. Pour the gelatin soup over the meat while ”shaking and stamping” the form to let the soup cover the whole brawn. 
  8. Refrigerate until next day and it’s ready for slicing.
  9. Taste delicious on a slice of black bread together a sharp mustard and a pickled beetroot or in some places it’s served with stewed potatoes and pickled beetroots.

P.S In the Philippines i found a variety made with chicken and some different spices. Very tasty as well, but for now i do not have the recipe and have not tried it out at melowsplace...