Category Archives: Charcuterie

Chicken Sausage

Homemade chicken sausage with mashed potato and squash
Chicken sausages with mashed potato and squash, braised red sauerkraut, apples, and gravy

Every Saturday the owner of Sunworks Farm is at the Strathcona Market griddling his chicken sausages and doling samples to passers-by.

I’m usually wary of chicken sausages. They’re often dry and mealy with no structure. The main difficulty in making sausage from poultry is the very low ratio of fat to lean, nowhere near the desired 1:3 that is easily achieved with pork.

Anyways many years ago I gambled on the Sunworks chicken sausage sample and was happy to find it was one of the best I’d ever eaten. My pleasure quickly turned to curiosity and I wondered aloud how they made it so juicy. Was there … Continue reading.

Homemade Frankfurters

Homemade frankfurters with potato salad and mustard.

In Vienna these links are called Frankfurter Würstl, named for the city Frankfurt am Main in Germany. In most of the rest of the world (including Frankfurt) they are called Wieners, which means “Viennese.” Go figure. Whatever you call them they are the ancestor of the North American hot dog.

The old world version is usually 100% pork in delicate lamb casings, lightly smoked. North American hot dogs can be pork, beef, or a combination of the two, usually in synthetic casings.

I link mine extra long, so they barely fit on a dinner plate.

To emulate the very fine texture of the commercial varieties I grind twice through a 3/16″ plate, and then do a lengthy mixing phase, roughly … Continue reading.

Pepperoni Sticks

Pepperoni sticks are a great introduction to air-drying cured meat at home. The process is very quick and very forgiving: even if you don’t have a whiz-bang curing chamber with perfect temperature and humidity control, you can probably make these pepperoni sticks at home and be very pleased with the result. And if for some reason you are worried that the whole process has gone sideways, just hot-smoke them or cook them and they will still be delicious. This is one of the recipes we make in my More Charcuterie at Home class, which is all about curing and air-drying meats.

These are meant to emulate the pepperoni sticks you get at gas station convenience stores. The recipe was developed … Continue reading.

Pancetta

Originally published May 31, 2010! Holy smokes. Re-published today to include more info and some nicer photos.

Pancetta is Italian for “little belly.”  The term refers to pork belly that has been cured and at least partly air-dried.  Unlike North American bacon it is usually not smoked.  It is a very important ingredient and foundational flavour in many Italian cuisines.

While North American bacon tends to use a simple salt and sugar cure, Italian pancetta is often redolent with flavours like juniper, nutmeg, and herbs.

Plus it is made in three distinct shapes.  Pancetta tesa is a flat slab of pork belly, like bacon.  Pancetta arrotolata has the belly rolled over the long axis, giving the sliced meat … Continue reading.

Sausage Gravy

Buttermilk biscuits covered with sausage gravy and young kale.

Sausage gravy ladled over biscuits is a classic comfort dish of the American south.  While you can certainly use fresh, raw sausage in the preparation, it is also a good trick up your sleeve to deal with cooked sausages leftover from a brunch or barbecue. 

Leftover sausages are often dry and a touch mealy.  Just as you might flake leftover fish and mix it with mayonnaise, or shred leftover roast beef and heat it in barbecue sauce, coating leftover sausages in gravy reintroduces moisture.

One detail: to develop depth of flavour it’s a good idea to brown the crumbled sausage so that a good fond develops in the bottom of the pan.  Once the butter and onions are added, use … Continue reading.

Ham Sausage Recipe

Homemade ham sausage.

This is definitely the most asked-about sausage style in my sausage-making classes. It is a hugely popular style in Alberta thanks to producers like Stawnichy’s. It goes by a confusing plethora of names – ham sausage, Ukrainian sausage, Mundare sausage[1], and for many people this is simply “kielbasa” even though that is a much, much broader family. So to clarify, the sausage I’m talking about in this post has the following characteristics:

  • the interior is the rosy colour of ham (ie. it contains curing salt)
  • the interior of the sausage is typically studded with larger chunks of ham-like lean pork
  • the sausage is smoked and can be served hot or cold

I believe this style almost … Continue reading.

Mexican Chorizo Sausage Recipe

I make absolutely no claim to the authenticity of this chorizo sausage recipe. It contains the flavours I use when making my gringo version of Mexican food, namely cumin, chili, garlic, and oregano.

While I’m sure it would be tasty on a bun, I usually cook with this sausage un-cased or loose. It’s great in tacos and quesadillas, but I absolutely love applications where the beautiful, spicy, vibrant red fat can be used. For instance if you fry the loose chorizo in a pan, then cook onions and peppers in the fat that is released, then make a frittata, as pictured at left.

Mexican Chorizo

Ingredients

  • 1 kg pork shoulder
  • 16 g kosher salt
  • 5.5 g hot smoked paprika (I use
Continue reading.

Nürnberger Rostbratwurst – Nürnberger Sausage Recipe

Nürnberger Rost-bratwurst: the little sausages with the big name. “Nürnberger” means from Nuremburg. “Rost” means roasted, as they are usually grilled over an open fire (often charred quite a bit actually). And “Bratwurst” of course is a style of fresh sausage.

Their most obvious trait is their diminutive size: they are usually slender and about three inches long. For this reason one typically consumes many in one sitting. Actually in Nürnberg they are always served in multiples of three, say, three of them on a bun (called Drei im Weggla) or six on a plate, with mustard and sauerkraut.

Exact recipes vary widely, but Nürnberger Rostbratwurst are flavoured with typical Bavarian sausage spices like mace, marjoram, white pepper, and lemon … Continue reading.

Pastrami

For a few years I’ve been making pastrami simply by making this corned beef, then after the cure is finished, coating the meat with crushed coriander and black pepper, then hot-smoking to temperature. This is a method that has served me well, but I’ve been reading quite a bit about the Jewish delis of New York, most notably David Sax’s book Save the Deli. In his description of how the pastrami is made at Katz’s, there were two surprises to me.

First, he says that they don’t actually use brisket, but “navel”. This is definitely not part of standard Canadian meat-cutting nomenclature, but it’s described as being adjacent to the brisket, which made me wonder if it … Continue reading.

The Three Pillars of Sausage-Making Wisdom

A really great sausage is not as common as you might think.

I have a vested interest in saying this because I’m in the sausage-making business, but it’s the truth.  A lot of the sausages that I eat have dry, mealy, sometimes even crumbly textures.

The primary goal of my sausage-making classes is to teach people that these are not matters of personal taste, but objective flaws in a sausage, plain and simple.  A sausage should have the well-bound fat content that makes it decadently moist in your mouth.  If there is any sense of abrasion on your tongue from dry, crumbly meat, the sausage was not properly made.

I’ve identified what I believe are the three most common roots … Continue reading.