Sausage

Sausage

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Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

Salame, saucisson, wurst – the simple sausage speaks many languages. The art of sausage-making can be traced back many centuries, and sausages have probably been made for as long as the pig has been slaughtered, around Christmas time in the northern hemisphere.

The skill and ingenuity of the early sausage-makers is still in evidence today, with different towns and regions producing their own particular and traditional types of sausages. It might be fresh or salted, cooked or smoked, herb or garlic-flavoured, large or small.

Butchers are now offering a wide range of sausages that are competing with prime cuts for an agreeable main meal.

Types of sausages:

Fresh sausages: These may be made of pork or beef, and are seasoned or spiced. The meat may be very finely ground and combined with cereal or some other ‘filler’, or the sausage may contain meat only. Most fresh Continental sausages are of this latter type; the Toulouse sausage is a particular type of pure pork sausage, which comes as one long coiled length.

Raw sausages: Also called air-dried sausages, these are typified by the Italian salame. These are generally made of pork, or a mixture of pork and beef. The meat is minced (ground) and salted, in the same way as ham is salted; flavourings and spices are added and the sausages are hung up to dry for several months. Salami-type sausages are marvellous in salads, as part of an hors d’oeuvre, combined with fresh melon or figs, on savouries and open sandwiches. They should be quite firm when bought, and should be sliced very thinly.

Cooked sausages: There is an enormous range of cooked sausages, some of which are also smoked. Polish clobassi is one of these, as is the Italian mortadella, and many German sausages – frankfurt, bierwurst, presswurst. These may be eaten as they are, with a salad and perhaps mustards and pickles, or with potato salad and dill cucumbers. Or they may be simmered in stock or water for about 10–20 minutes, depending on size, and eaten hot with starchy vegetables such as mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, cooked lentils, haricot beans or red cabbage.

Soft sausages: These include all forms of liver sausage, which is eaten as it is, on bread or biscuits. German mettwurst is another soft, spreading sausage. German sausages may also be made with tongue, or a mixture similar to brawn, or liver mixture studded with cubes of pork fat.

Black puddings: Also known as boudins in France, or blood sausages, they are made with pig’s blood, onions and seasonings. They may be cooked by simmering or frying, and are usually accompanied by mashed potato, onions and fried apple rings.

Andouilles and andouillettes: French names for smoked and salted sausages made from pork tripe. They are found throughout France; andouille is eaten cold, usually as an hors d’oeuvre, while andouillettes are gently fried or simmered.

To cook fresh sausages: Fresh sausages may be grilled (broiled) or fried, and if desired cooking may be preceded by parboiling. Prick the sausages lightly with a sharp-pronged fork or the point of a knife, in order to prevent them bursting. Parboiling also helps to prevent bursting. Fresh sausages will burst if cooked too fast.

When frying sausages, it is rarely necessary to add any fat except just enough to prevent them from sticking. If sausages give out a lot of fat during cooking, drain this off.

When barbecuing sausages, thread them on long skewers to make them easy to turn.

When sausages are cooked the flesh will no longer be pink and the skins will be nicely browned. Insert a skewer in the middle to test – it should be warm to the touch.

Tomato, onion and mustard sauces go well with fresh sausages, as do mustard and horseradish.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
see method for ingredients

Method

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