You could be fooled by the title to believe that just because I was staying in a castle in France that I have been crowned said “Sausage King” or that it is my plan to open a chain of fast food joints devoted to sausage!! I can picture it now…………………………………. (enter scooby doo flash back effect right here)………
“Good afternoon and welcome to Sausage king, may I take your order?”
“hmmm I am spoilt for choice, I guess I will take a medisterpølse and mustard”
“Would you like to Supersize that?”
“well it is only 2 feet long……..sure”
I can picture it clearly, trying to shove a whole Cumberland sausage into my face whilst driving……Okay so the plan has some kinks! One day I tell ya, one day!
So why is sausage the subject for this new blog and why the heck has it taken so long to write? Well it has been on my mind ever since Denmark which is famous for its sausages and sausage wagons on street corners throughout the country, but I really had to experience a multitude of meat filled intestine before I was knowledgeable enough on the subject to educate you all and yes, ” tough job”, mark my words”.
I can pretty much guarantee that wherever you are in the world you wont be far from a local form of sausage and almost all countries in the world have national as well as regional specialties, even the non -pork eating countries have lamb, beef or offal versions.
As with most great foods, sausage is no doubt a result of necessity, the need to use everything from an animal so that nothing goes to waste…
After all of the prime and secondary cuts have been butchered and removed, wrapped neatly in white styro-foam containers and taughtly covered in clear, shiny cling film, after all the small scraps of meat have been scraped off the bones and ideally been sold for stewing meat and stroganoff cuts then you look at what you have left in front of you….well, really tough cuts, trimmings of meat, fat, and innards….hmmm what to do with all that, what else but grind it all up and squeeze it into the parts which you can’t really eat on their own….you know stomach, intestine, bladder etc! Now before you all go “”eewwwww, gross”, I guarantee you that if you are not a vegetarian and if you have ever eaten sausage, chances are pretty high it was an intestine of some kind filled with not so prime pieces of meat…Why do you think that it is ground beyond recognition?
I am not trying to gross you out, not at all, as a matter of fact some of the most delicious things I have ever eaten or cooked are things that some people wouldn’t even look twice at, sweetbreads, frogs legs, liver, heart, Alligator, the list goes on. It always gets me a little when I cook something for a dinner or a party and people say “wow that was delicious” and then I tell them it is sweetbreads (pancreas) and the say gross! I even had someone spit it out into a napkin right in front of me right after saying it was amazing and it was her 3rd one. I guess there is comfort for some people enjoying food but not really thinking too much about what it is or where it really comes from.
I digress! -Sausage is an art, an art which really hasn’t changed much in centuries with a rich history dating back over 2,000 years. Something which has been around that long really can’t be that bad can it? I am guessing that sausage will never disappear and in 2000 more years it will still be as popular as ever. Just think, when future generations are flying their cars though one of my families Sausage King fly throughs (trademark pending), that when they glance across the air road, for lack of a better term, you wont see a fly through “donut dunkers” , “funky fried chicken”or “el Taco de gut rot”, and if you did, the line for food would be much longer on your side of the air!
Driving through Europe, we have had the great fortune to be able to see and try so many types of sausage here are a few examples of what we had to pick from (minimised for space )
abruzzo sausage – andouille – Cajun andouille – Louisiana andouille – andouillette sausage – bauerwurst sausage – bauernwurst – blood sausage – blood pudding – black pudding. black sausage – boudin noir – blutwurst sausage – bockwurst sausage – boerewors sausage – boeries – wors – boerewurst – boudin blanc sausage – white boudin – boudin rouge sausage – Polse-Ristet med the hele-red boudin – bratwurst sausage – breakfast sausage patty – banger – chaurice sausage – chipolata sausage – chorizo – Mexican sausage – chorizo – Spanish sausage – chourico sausage – chouriço – cocktail wieners sausage – cotechino sausage – Cumberland sausage – French andouille sausage – Goetta sausage – scrapple – haggis – hot dog sausage – wiener – weiner – frankfurter – frank – tube steak – wienerwurst – griddle – Italian sausage – Kielbasa sausage – kolbasa – kolbasz – Polish sausage – knublewurst – Polnische wurst – kishke sausage – kishka – kiske – kiska – kiszka – derma – stuffed derma – knackwurst sausage – knockwurst – knoblauch – kolbasz sausage – landjager sausage – landjaeger – lap cheong sausage – lap chong – lap chung – lop chong – Chinese dried sausages – Chinese sausage – linguica sausage – linguiça – linguisa sausage – longanisa sausage – longaniza – loukanika sausage – medisterpoelse sausage – merguez sausage – mirkâs – mettwurst sausage – metts – morcilla sausage – pepperoni sausage – pickled pork sausage – pickle meat – Creole pickled pork – pinkelwurst sausage – potato korv sausage – smoked bratwurst sausage – Sujuk sausage – soujouk – yershig – tocino sausage – Toulouse sausage – Vienna sausage – Vienna-style frankfurter – weisswurst sausage – weiswürste – white sausage
Sausages fall into a quite a few categories as well, just to confuse things, and here is a quick look at the most common ones:
Cooked: A lot of the German and Scandinavian varieties fall into this category: Hot dogs, Frankfurt, mortadella, Bologna etc. You will find that the fillings in these has been ground a lot finer, sometimes even to a smooth puree. I am not trying they are trying to hide something but….. Just kidding, hot dogs are awesome. It is still recommended that you cook a lot of these types of sausage to crisp up the skin and enhance the flavour.mmmmmmm
Smoked: (These can be both cooked and raw) Pretty self explanatory I guess. These are some of my favourites, it just adds that extra bit and I really enjoy using smoked sausage in slow cooked dishes such as Stews and Pasta type sauces. Whenever you see smoked items, it is probably a dish or product that dates back centuries as smoking is used to preserve and enhance other flavors. Food was often processed and then hung to dry in areas where fires where present thus drying the product quicker but making it extra tasty!
Dried: These are by far the oldest style of sausage and the most popular throughout France, Spain and Italy are cured sausages that are fermented and dried, the word fermented may not sound that appealing when it comes to food but without the fermentation process the sausages would not have the salty/tangy flavour that make them so distinct and tasty and of course it is the key factor in their long shelf life.
They are generally eaten cold and will keep for a long time and they really don’t need to be refrigerated! cool right?! These styles come in countless flavors and are truly delicious and versatile….you may know some of the most popular varieties such as Chorizo and Salami’s (such as pepperoni, sopresatta etc) and I am sure that you have had at least a few varieties of dried sausage throughout meals and sandwiches in your life!
So now that you are a sausage expert, I leave you with a very popular recipe from Northern France called Chou Croute Garni. It is so popular that you can buy ready to go kits in the supermarket. Our most recent encounter of this great dish was cooked by a most fantastic lady called Jacqueline who is the mother of a good friend from the States and it was really delicious. It is a great winter warmer and the perfect dish to sit around a table with as it is served family style…..Thank you Jacqueline for the amazing food and Jean-François for the entertainment.
1 3/4 pounds smoked meaty ham hocks
1 pound fully cooked bratwurst
8 ounces thick-sliced bacon strips, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 large onions, chopped
1 teaspoon of whole juniper berries (optional)
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
10 whole cloves
8 whole allspice
3 bay leaves
3 granny smith or cooking apples, unpeeled, cored, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 2-pound jars sauerkraut, squeezed dry
2 pounds fully cooked kielbasa or your fave cooked and smoked , whole or large chunks
2 cups Alsatian Pinot Blanc or other dry white wine
2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
2/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
Prepared white horseradish
Note: Feel free to add whatever meat you like, smoked is best! Jacqueline used smoked pork steaks (like a bone in back bacon)
Place ham hocks in large saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until meat is very tender, about 2 hours. Transfer hocks to medium bowl. Boil broth until reduced to 2 cups, about 15 minutes. This process can be done a day ahead, I like to leave the meat on the bones and shred it after it has cooked again in the dish, however, feel free to pick the meat off the bones the day before.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add bratwurst and bacon. Sauté until bratwurst is brown and the bacon has started to release its fat, about 10 minutes. add the hocks/hock meat.
Add onions, spices and bay leaves to same pot. Sauté until onions are tender, about 5 minutes. Add apples; sauté 2 minutes. Mix in sauerkraut. Add all meats; press to submerge. Add reserved broth and wine. Boil for 10 minutes.
Cover choucroute and bake 1 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 18 minutes. Drain; cool slightly. Cut potatoes in half. . Arrange sauerkraut and meats on platter. Surround with potatoes.
Serve with mustards and horseradish.
Walk away from the table holding stomach!!