Caribbean souse is a clear broth made with the scrap meat of a pig, cow, or chicken (mainly the feet). It is first cooked and then marinated in fresh lime or lemon juice, vinegar, salt, parsley, minced hot peppers, and cucumbers, essentially pickling the meat. It is typically served as a cold main course salad along with black pudding or steamed pudding.
Caribbean-style souse is a favorite among locals and is common among frugal cooks who believe in not wasting one morsel of a slaughtered animal, which is known as nose-to-tail eating.
Caribbean souse is made with various parts of a pig, cow, or chicken. Pork souse is the most common and is made with the ears, feet, knuckles, and the shoulder part of a pig. Beef souse is made with the heel of the cow and the head, which becomes gelatinous when cooked. Chicken-foot souse is made with the feet of the chicken.
Although a humble dish, it is often made for special occasions and parties. Souse is served along with some of the juices in which it was marinated. In the Caribbean, souse is primarily made and sold on Fridays and Saturdays and traditionally served with some savory pudding.
Souse/Head Cheese Around the World
In other countries, souse is also known as head cheese when made with the head of a pig or calf. It is frequently jellied, shaped into a sausage, or molded in a pan, and served as a cold cut. In Vietnam and other parts of Asia, pig's head parts are made into head cheese, which is sliced and often used as a filling for banh mi sandwiches. In the Netherlands and Belgium, head cheese or souse is often made with pigs' trotters, which provide the gelatinous qualities necessary for creating a meat aspic. Vinegar and blood also are common ingredients.
In Poland, head cheese is known as salceson. Black salceson contains blood while white salceson does not. It typically is eaten with a splash of vinegar. In the Czech Republic, the huspenina or sulc is made from pig's heads and other pork cuts that are boiled together, chopped, and mixed into their own broth, along with onion, pepper, allspice, bay leaf, vinegar, salt, carrot, parsley, and celery root. It is poured into a pan and allowed to gel in the refrigerator.