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How to Make Homemade Brawn a Family Recipe

Chidhood Memories of Learning How to Cook

Now was the time not only to help my late dad, but also to learn some of his special cooking processes.

We had just been to the market to fill up our deep freezer with meat, this would take place every 4 to 6 months. After the various cuts of meats had been portioned and packed away, there were sundry items that were still in the refrigerator, and these needed to be processed

On a Sunday morning after breakfast my father and I would then make Brawn, a deli favourite of our family.

This was really a good meaty brawn in its own juices and natural jelly, not the cubed pieces of trimmed meat surrounded by a sea of packaged gelatin that you obtain from speciality butcheries these days.

This was not only an education but also a gastronomic treat for me, not only to help with the preparation and cooking process, but also to the clearing up. As the pot scrapings at the end of the entire process were really the thing to look forward to, the learning process was the butter and jam.


The Beginings Of Brawn - Making Use of Fresh Meat Trimmings

The process had its beginnings early Friday morning, when at 03h00, we went to the meat market. This was where all the major wholesale butcheries had a branch from where they received their purchased fresh carcases from the auctioneers at the abattoirs took delivery of the meat and sent it out to their various outlets, also the public could then buy directly from them at a wholesale price, in the market area.

It was always fascinating to watch the long lines of carcases, suspended by a hook through one of its hind legs, being trundled from one point to another along a vast network of overhead rails, which started at the docking bays and traced its way past and into the various allowed premises of the wholesale butcheries. Where they were sorted by type and grades.

Fascinated I would watch as whole carcases where being split down the middle and then quartered in some cases, labeled with grade and price per Pound weight and overall weight written on a piece of butchers brown paper, attached to the hind or forequarter or the side. All there for customers to decide what their specific requirements would be.

We would always go to the same outlet, and asked for the same block-man to attend to us.

Flashback to my Fathers Youth

In his youth my father would assist at the local butchery before school, sometimes even bunking school, as his mom confided to me, and on Saturdays. This was to be able to contribute to the overall income of the family.

The butchers in those early days had very odd times and started work at 03h00 in the morning and closed at 13h00 in the afternoon. This was where he was taught how to cut debone carcases and then eventually to also make processed meats. Of these a firm favourite was Brawn This was one of the processed meats he had been taught to make when he was a teenager many, many years ago.

The Brawn Process

When we had purchased the meat from the market, which was usually a hindquarter a whole lamb and some times a half a pig, but we also always bought a dozen pigs trotters.

We would never swap the bones and fat for mince as was then the common practice.

This we would take home with us for further use, which I will now divulge to you dear readers. .

The Ingredients

There is no table of ingredients other the the washed and rinsed bones and whole trotters, some salt and pepper to taste as well as some mixed herbs.

The Process

The entire bone collection or harvest would then go into very large pot with some boiling water which would simmer away gently for several hours until the separates from the bone with only a slight shake or a flick of the knife.

This is a gentle process as you do want some chunky bits of meat as well as the meat shreds. The resulting liquid and the stripped bones in the pot is thick gelatinous rue with all slivers and bits of meat.

Pour the mixture into large Pyrex bowls an let them cool down, if you do not have enough bowls use a greased loaf tin.

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Once cooled down to room temperature, cover and place them in the fridge.

There you have now made some homemade brawn.

Read a bit more about Sausages and the makings of

How to eat it

The best way of eating this is as a snack supper or lunch with a selection of breads, rolls and bagels. Some salad greens and a fresh Potato salad.

Great on Rye Bread and a good German or English Mustard.

A quick and easy Stew

Take a large slice of the brawn, boil up some potatoes and mixed vegetables, a teaspoon of curry powder, drain the vegetables and drop in the slice of brawn, fry it up, there a quick stick to ribs type curry.


Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on June 21, 2017:


Thank you for your interest in making some Brawn!

As I disclosed in the Hub itself! It is not an actual recipe that says x grams of this and y grams of that!

It is the bits and pieces of what is left on the table after stripping the carcasses of your trip to the meat monger! All the bones, cartliges and the like! Put into a pot! Left to simmer add salt pepper and any mixture of herbs! The more bones and moveable joints the better!! Carry on asb the descriptive narrative! Add herbs salt pepper to your liking!

clairebabs on October 13, 2016:

hello I am despite to find a delicious BRAWN recipy, I have looked on line and googled it but nothing is catching my eye that reminds me of my childhood memories of it from South Africa , Please could you help ,Im craving it

Pat Batstone on October 03, 2016:

I'm in Newfoundland and have a great deal of moose meat in the freezer and was looking for a recipe other than bottling it. We really like brawn and I'll try to make it using the basics of your recipe. Thanks.

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on May 05, 2014:

Many people have asked for a specific recipe, it is in the hub itself, although not item by item nor quantities. The basics are to ave a vast quantity of shredded meat, boiled up together together which is glutinous with a quantity of salt pepper. The natural jelly is found is in the hocks,heads as well the bending joints of the 4 legged animals.

If you look through my hubs, I did try a chicken version - this was not bad, however it only had a very short keeping life, three days, and best used as a stock for savoury rice or pastas.

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on May 05, 2014:

Ellen, most of the recipes that I have posted, even though I do not always write the nostalgic bits, are my favourite. I have a variant for the above recipe, is to use the head of a sheep, locally called a "smiley". This adds a different flavor.

Thanks for the comment

Kaye duggin on May 04, 2014:

Could I please have the resciepfor the brawn thank you

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on April 09, 2013:

Headmeat will work fone but use so,e shin, chuck and other bomy chunks, to increase the amount of binding jelly.

Good luck

Nat Parsons. on April 09, 2013:

My mouth waters - really. Embarrassed to say, I have just bought half a pound from Morrisson's meat counter . However, will go and get some trotters and head meat ( is that right? ) to give it a whirl this weekend. Thanks.

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on December 27, 2012:

Vicky Hill, I am pleased that I was able to help you with the way that I made brawn in those days, when I look back while writing my cullinary hubs, it is often taking a trip down memry lane. You said that those middle aged people had not known the way to make brawn, well it was a recipe dating back from around about the ninteen fifties.

As we get more mature, we do have those nostalgic memories that spices and the aromas eminating from a combination of meals being made, kick in and bring out a smile or a tear (even with the males, if they are honest enough).

Enjoy your brawn.

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on December 27, 2012:

Thanks Ellen, it is true, so many memories, strangely enough a lot of these memories are of cooking a particular dish. I often get that especially that, when using those same ingedients, you get that warm and comforting feeling, that you have that special person with you.

Thanks for the comment!

Maria, NZ on December 27, 2012:

Thank you for the brawn recipe. I was at the Supermarket today (nz) and saw a half of fresh pig head which I bought. Again, it was the old people who made it having made it only once. With time on my hands I decided to have a go but do you know, I asked three people at the supermarket for the recipe and no one had made it; middle age and all.

Google was the only option and bingo; everything started coming back. Not sure about the trotters. I will give you feed back when cooked.

Leon Mulder on September 06, 2010:

My late mom made an awesome brawn using pork troters and a whole head we used to help remove the bones an curried some of itt boy was it good on hot freswh bread and toast

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on December 02, 2009:

Thanks for sharing those thoughts and sentiments, I am sure that the end result will come out well for you as well.

You will findd quite a few good South African recipes on my hubs, if you want anymore leave a comment, or go to my profile and leave me an email, Will respond to you.

Take care and best wishes from South Africa.

christine oosthuizen on December 01, 2009:

Hi Rodney I loved the way you wrote the recipe. I was surfing the net looking for a good brawn recipe when I came across yours. My husband wants me to make it. I have never tried making it. I know he will be thrilled with it. His Mum passed away two yrs ago and she used to make it for the family. He has very fond memories. I would like to continue them for him. So I will have a go at your recipe. From a south african living abroad to be with their children but missing south africa so very much!!!

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on March 23, 2009:

linjingjing, thanks for the comment and pleased that this will be of help to you.

Happy cooking.

linjingjing on March 21, 2009:

Homemade Brawn

This article is very helpful to me

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on March 14, 2009:

Glad I could help you with the Brawn recipe, I will be doing a Pickle hub soon so watch my space on the hub.

Thanks for the visit.

Vicki Hill on March 13, 2009:

Thanks for your memories re: brawn. I have been looking for a recipe for ages. Never made it myself but my late Mum & Dad and Gran & Pop used to make big batches over a weekend and I could never get enough. Now I want to make it for my Dad as well as home made pickled onions (both of which I could never tire of). There is something so comforting in preparing these things with love in your heart for your family (along with pea and ham soup etc etc).

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on March 08, 2009:

Thanks for the comment Karen, it is always a pleasure to make these hub recipes of mine sound interesting as well. How is hubby managing with the changeof seasons?

Karen Ellis from Central Oregon on March 07, 2009:

It's always so interesting to me to learn what and how others do things in far away places. And, you always make it so interesting.

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on November 26, 2008:

Thanks for enjoying the hub there xtra tiny

xtraTiny on November 26, 2008:

I enjoyed much....Thanks for such an HP

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on November 17, 2008:

Thanks RGraf, I am glad you enjoy them. That is what makes up life pages and pagesof memories, old photographs and smells that trigger off a past.

Rebecca Graf from Wisconsin on November 16, 2008:

Very interesting. Enjoy those memories!

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on July 10, 2008:

Thanks G-Ma, yes fun times were had all those years ago, happy to provide you with details of these.

Merle Ann Johnson from NW in the land of the Free on July 10, 2008:

Never heard of this before...but the fun times you seemed to have had were worth reading this a lesson learned here about cooking..Great Hub...G-Ma :o) hugs

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on July 10, 2008:

Those were indeed the days and fond memories.

Clive Fagan from South Africa on July 10, 2008:

Great memories long forgotten. The cold winter mornings, the steam on our breath. Blowing our hands to keep them warm. The pungent almost metallic smells of the meat, the thuck of the sharp meat cleavers and the whining of the meat saws.

great hub great memories.

Rodney Fagan (author) from Johannesberg South Africa, The Gold Mine City on July 10, 2008:

Those were the days, and as I write and read the varous hubpages I seem to recall more.

Eileen Hughes from Northam Western Australia on July 10, 2008:

Good one Rodney.  I loved this home made brawn.  And we did the pigs trotters too.  We also used the lambs tongues too but I think Dad skinned them before cooking them.   Great hub.  I would like to make some of this again.  Thanks for taking me back down memory lane again.

I love going back through the years.  and so many of them too. Oh well still here so far.

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