Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

Kielbasa

24 December 12

[Herself SEZ: The Ol’ Curmudgeon wants me to add the following CAUTION:

If you smoke sausage or keep it a long time you need to add cure: instacure or prague powder. About a teaspoon per 5 lbs. of meat will do it. Smoking is the perfect environment to grow certain types of bacteria that can make you very sick. If you add the cure you will be pretty safe.

Herself adds, this is to prevent severe food-borne illnesses – like botulism! Also, cook your homemade sausage to an internal temp of 178deg F and hold it there for 10 minutes. This will destroy the toxin which causes the poisoning.]

The people of the Middle East have a real thing about pigs. Unclean! Unclean! Is the cry of both Jew and Moslem. Notice that both groups come from the same neck of the woods. The reason they have problems with the porkers is actually rather practical, if you:

– keep your pigs in unclean conditions

– allow them to eat offal and rats (they’re as good a ratter as a cat)

– don’t have cold weather for slaughtering

– don’t have modern refrigeration

– don’t cook the meat done

You are probably going to have Trichinosis, a parasitic worm that encysts in the host. Gross! Yech! Not only can kill you, but also hurts! BTW – you can also get it from undercooked game.

However, when kept clean, properly fed, slaughtered in cool weather (not found in the Middle East), and properly refrigerated, the risk is non-existent. The noble pig is a staple of people of discrimination and good culinary taste around the world. Now, everyone except the Jews and Moslems has sausage recipes, but the two groups that have made the absolute most of the lovely creature are the Germans and Eastern Europeans. Volumes could be (and have been) written about the German and Eastern European pork recipes. There are umpteen thousand different sausage recipes.

Sausage, Swojska, Polish, kiełbasa

Sausage, Swojska, Polish, kiełbasa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I must admit that my all-time favorite is kielbasa. Now there are a slew of variations on the word (and the recipe), all the way from the Czech to the Polish to the Ukrainian, generally the whole neck of the woods of Northern to Eastern Europe and on into Russia. Mostly we get wiejska kielbasa when we get it from an American supermarket. The Hillshire Farms u-shaped stuff comes to mind. Now this is pretty good. Just slice it into rounds about 1/4” thick and gently heat in a heavy skillet until it is light brown to dark brown on both sides. Just serve it up and chow down. However, if you have access to some sort of Eastern European market, try some of the variations, they’re just about all good. But, if you want to roll your own, here’s a starter:
.

4 lbs. Clean, tender pork – butt is fine, chunk it into pieces

1 lb. Fatback, chunk it up

1 lb. Beef – if you want tender, use veal, chuck for a rougher texture, chunk it up

1 1/2 tablespoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tablespoon ground allspice

other spices to taste and to vary – try some marjoram for that traditional Polish taste

lots of garlic and pepper for the Krakow type

or any other spicing which suits

garlic is always good

brown sugar will give it a sweet taste

1/2 cup cold water

Sausage Casings

Pre-mix all the spices. Grind or mince the meat. Add the spices. Mix everything thoroughly. Stuff the sausages per directions of whatever stuffer you have.

If you’ve got the Kitchen-Aid mixer with the grinder and stuffer attachments then the whole process isn’t that hard. If you are really serious, there are good web sites for professional sausage stuffers. Traditional funnel about $10 (the hard way). Stuffer $75 to $100 (the easy way).

Remember, this isn’t what you get at the grocery in the bubble packs. That is pre-cooked. This is raw sausage and will take a bit longer to cook. Make sure you get it done. You can just fry it up and eat it. Bake it, broil it, boil it, smoke it. If you smoke it, fast smoking will wrinkle and shrink. If you smoke extra slow, the skin will toughen and you will get the kind of crunchy bite that is characteristic of Andouille sausage. You only need to smoke to 175°, the pork is fully done at that temp. The Germans do the sauerkraut thing. The Eastern Europeans frequently serve with horseradish. I like the purple horseradish, just take a slice of kielbasa and spread a little on. Heaven.

Now you know I’m not going to pass by the South, so here’s your Grandmother’s Southern Hot & Spicy Sausage Patties –

1 lb. ground or minced pork

2 tsp rubbed sage

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tsp ground marjoram

1/4 tsp ground thyme

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp mace

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp cinnamon

Mix is all up. Shape it into patties about ½” thick. Fry it up slowly. Get it done through. If this is too hot, back out 1 or more of the last 4 ingredients. I personally use a lighter touch with the sage, I’m more interested in a balanced taste. And I like a little sweet basil, if fresh.

And, of course, we can’t ignore Basic American Sausage:

4 lbs. Good pork butt

1 lb good bacon (optional)

1 cup minced onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 cup sage

1 stick butter

1-1/4 tbsp kosher salt

1 tbsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp marjoram

1 tbsp thyme

1 tbsp sweet basil

1 tbsp cayenne or red pepper flakes (optional)

Mix it all up. Stuff the casings. Enjoy. Twiddle the spices to suit yourself. Works well fried, grilled, smoked, cut up and used in various recipes.

Truthfully, just about any meat can be made into sausage. Deer sausage is popular with Southern hunters of the whitetail. Most of the spicing is optional. Even when you talk about sausage from a given area, every single cook has a different recipe. Many regional sausages get their distinctive flavor from slow smoking. The only thing that you can say for sure is that a sausage is totally up to the taste of the cook. You can’t even say that a sausage has a casing. Remember the Southern Patties? However, generally, a sausage has a casing, is usually ground or minced pork, and has various spices.

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